Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine that exempts a government or its agencies from being sued without its consent. This immunity extends to foreign governments, which means that; one country cannot sue another country in its own courts without the latter’s permission. Sovereign immunity is an essential principle of international law that helps protect national sovereignty and promote peaceful relations among nations.


The origin of sovereign immunity can be traced back to the medieval concept of the “divine right of kings,” which held that monarchs were God’s representatives on earth and thus could not be held accountable to their subjects. This idea evolved over time into the notion that governments were immune from lawsuits, reflecting the belief that sovereigns were too powerful to be subject to the laws of their own creation.

The idea of sovereign immunity was formally recognized by the English courts in the 16th century, when it was held that the king could not be sued in his own courts without his consent. This principle was later extended to cover other government officials and agencies, creating a legal doctrine that exempted the government from being held liable for its actions.

The concept of sovereign immunity was also adopted by other countries, including the United States, where it was enshrined in the Constitution’s Eleventh Amendment. This amendment prohibits lawsuits against states in federal court without the state’s consent, except in cases where the state has waived its immunity or where Congress has abrogated it through legislation.

Overall, the origin of sovereign immunity can be traced back to the idea of monarchs being divinely appointed and therefore beyond the reach of the law. While the concept has evolved over time, it remains a crucial principle in international law, protecting national sovereignty and promoting peaceful relations among nations.


There are generally two types of sovereign immunity recognized in international law:

  1. Absolute immunity: This type of immunity provides complete protection to a foreign state from being sued in the courts of another country. It means that; a foreign state cannot be sued or held liable for any actions, regardless of whether they are commercial or governmental in nature.
  2. Restrictive immunity: This type of immunity is more limited and allows a foreign state to be sued in certain circumstances. For example, a foreign state may be subject to the jurisdiction of another country’s courts if it engages in commercial activities within that country or if it commits a tortious act (such as an act of terrorism) on that country’s soil.

In addition to these two types of immunity, there are also exceptions to sovereign immunity that; may allow a foreign state to be sued even if it would ordinarily be immune. These exceptions include cases where the foreign state  waived its immunity, cases involving property disputes or contracts, and cases involving violations of human rights or international law.

Overall, the type of sovereign immunity that; applies in a particular case will depend on various factors, including the nature of the foreign state’s activities and the jurisdiction in which the lawsuit is being brought.


sovereign immunity remains a critical legal principle in international law, but it is not absolute. The limits and exceptions to this doctrine are continually evolving as the international community seeks to balance the interests of national sovereignty with the need for accountability and justice.

Written By Advocate Associate Avichal Singhal

Law Offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate & Associates.



The following disclaimer governs the use of this website (“Website”) and the services provided by the Law offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate & Associates in accordance with the laws of India. By accessing or using this Website, you acknowledge and agree to the terms and conditions stated in this disclaimer.

The information provided on this Website is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice or relied upon as such. The content of this Website is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Firm. Any reliance on the information provided on this Website is done at your own risk.

The Law Firm makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information contained on this Website.

The Law Firm disclaims all liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this Website or for any actions taken in reliance on the information provided herein. The information contained in this website, should not be construed as an act of solicitation of work or advertisement in any manner.