Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Immunity Definition:

An exemption that a person enjoys from the normal operation of the law such as a legal duty or liability, either criminal or civil.

Related Terms: Judicial Immunity, Diplomatic Immunity, State Immunity

An exemption that a person (individual or corporate) enjoys from the normal operation of the law such as a legal duty or liability, either criminal or civil.

Some people have immunity just because of the office they occupy such as judge's having immunity from being sued for decisions taken during the course of a trial.

Another example of an immunity is where a witness agrees to testify and incriminate themselves, but only if their testimony cannot be used at some later date against the testifying witness.

International Law

See, also, the Legal Definition of State Immunity, Legal Definition of Judicial Immunity and the Legal Definition of Diplomatic Immunity.

In international law, consider these words of Justice Louis Lebel of the Supreme Court of Canada in Amaratunga v. Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization:

"According to a general rule of customary international law, states enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of other states. The International Court of Justice has held that state immunity derives from the principle of sovereign equality of states, which, as §2.1 of the Charter of the United Nations makes clear, is one of the fundamental principles of the international legal order."

On this basis, as an extension thereof, diplomats enjoy diplomatic immunity.

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