Supreme Court (“Cour de cassation”), Castanié v. Widow Hurtado, Request of 27 February 1934

Constitution of France

Article 54

If the Constitutional Council, at the request of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the President of one or the other assembly or by sixty deputies or sixty senators, has declared that an international commitment contains a clause contrary to the Constitution, authorization to ratify or approve the international commitment in question may be given only after amendment of the Constitution.

Article 55

Duly ratified or approved treaties or agreements shall, upon publication, prevail over acts of Parliament, subject, in regard to each agreement or treaty, to its application by the other party.

Social security
Role of International Law:
Direct resolution of a dispute on the basis of international law
Type of instruments used:

Ratified treaty1

Occupational accident/ Domestic law subordinating its full application to foreign employees to the existence of a bilateral treaty/ ILO Convention providing for equality of treatment for the nationals of countries also having ratified the Convention/ Direct resolution of a dispute on the basis of international law

The widow of a Spanish employee who died after a work-related accident that occurred in France entered a claim in the courts in order to obtain compensation identical to that applicable to French workers. On the basis of ILO Convention No. 19, ratified by France, the Court of Appeal agreed with her. Basing its decision on the fact that the domestic legislation on occupational accidents conditioned its full application to foreign workers to the existence of a bilateral treaty with the country of which the worker was a citizen, the employer’s insurance company submitted this case to the Supreme Court. The French Supreme Court set aside the domestic legislation on compensation for occupational accidents, directly applying Article 1(1) of ILO Convention No. 19 on Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation). That Article stipulates that States ratifying the Convention agree to grant to victims of a work-related accident who are nationals of a country that is also party to the Convention treatment identical to that granted to their nationals.

“That the challenged decision correctly decided that given that double and proper ratification [those of France and Spain], the provisions of article 3 of law of 29 April 1898 were waived in France, and that in the event of a work-related accident after 22 February 1929, all Spanish workers or their legal successor shall benefit from the same treatment as French workers, without condition of residence, even in the absence of a specific agreement [between the two countries].”

On the direct basis of ILO Convention No. 19, the French Supreme Court confirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal and granted the employee’s widow compensation identical to that applicable to national workers.


1 ILO Convention on Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation), 1925 (No. 19).

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