1708: 7 Anne c.12: Diplomatic Privileges Act

1708: 7 Anne c.12: An act for preserving the privileges of ambassadors, and other publick ministers of foreign princes and states.

Whereas several turbulent and disorderly persons having in a most outrageous manner insulted the person of his excellency Andrew Artemonowitz Mattueoff, ambassador extraordinary of his Czarish Majesty, Emperor of Great Russia, her Majesty’s good friend and ally, by arresting him, and taking him by violence out of his coach in the publick street, and detaining him in custody for several hours, in contempt of the protection granted by her Majesty, contrary to the law of nations, and in prejudice of the rights and privileges which ambassadors and other publick ministers, authorized and received as such, have at all times been thereby possessed of, and ought to be kept sacred and inviolable; be it therefore declared by the Queen’s most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That all actions and suits, writs and processes commenced, sued, or prosecuted against the said ambassador, or any other person or persons whatsoever, and all bail bonds given by the said ambassador, or any other person or persons on his behalf, and all recognizances of bail given or acknowledged in any such action or suit, and all proceedings upon or by pretext or colour of any such action or suit, write or process, and all judgements had thereupon, are utterly null and void, and shall be deemed and adjudged to be utterly null and void, to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever.

II. And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all entries, proceedings, and records against the said ambassador, or his bail, shall be vacated and cancelled.

III. And to prevent the like insolencies for the future, be it further declared by the authority aforesaid, That all writes and processes that shall at any time hereafter be sued forth or prosecuted, whereby the person of any ambassador, or other publick minister of any foreign prince or state, authorized and received as such by her Majesty, her heirs or successors, or the domestick, or domestick servant of any such ambassador, or other publick minister, may be arrested or imprisoned, or his or their goods or chattels may be distrained, seized, or attached, shall be deemed and adjudged to be utterly null and void to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever.

IV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in case any person or persons shall presume to sue forth or prosecute any such writ or process, such person or persons, and all attornies and solicitors prosecuting and soliciting in such case, and all officers executing any such writ or process, being thereof convicted, by the confession of the party, or by oath of one or more credible witness or witnesses, before the lord chancellor, or lord keeper of the great seal of Great Britain, the chief justice of the court of Queen’s Bench, the chief justice of the court of Common Pleas for the time being, or any two of them, shall be deemed violators of the laws of nations, and disturbers of the publick repose, and shall suffer such pains, penalties, and corporal punishment, as the said lord chancellor, lord keeper, and the said chief justices, or any two of them shall judge fit to be imposed and inflicted.

V. Provided, and be it declared, That no merchant or other trader whatsoever, within the description of any of the statutes against bankrupts, who hath or shall put himself into the service of any such ambassador or publick minister, shall have or take any manner of benefit by this act; and that no person shall be proceeded against as having arrested the servant of an ambassador or publick minister, by virtue of this act, unless the name of such servant be first registered in the office of one of the principal secretaries of state, and by such secretary transmitted to the sheriffs of London and Middlesex for the time being, or their under sheriffs or deputies, who shall, upon the receipt thereof, hang up the same in some publick place in their offices, whereto all persons may resort, and take copies thereof, without fee or reward.

VI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That this act shall be taken and allowed in all courts within this kingdom as a publick act; and that all judges and justices shall take notice of it without special pleading; and all sheroiffs, bailiffs, and other officers and ministers of justice, concerned in the execution of process, are hereby required to have regard to this act, as they will answer the contrary at their peril.

Source: Pickering, Statutes At Large, volume 11.

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