Maduro Board of The Central Bank of Venezuela v Guaido Board of The Central Bank of Venezuela: SC 20 Dec 2021

Mr Maduro was re-elected President of Venezuela in May 2018. Mr Guaido was the President of the National Assembly of Venezuela. Mr Guaido claimed that the May 2018 election was flawed and that he was Interim President of Venezuela.
Both parties appointed different Boards to the Central Bank of Venezuela. These Boards issued conflicting instructions concerning nearly US$1 billon of Venezuela’s international reserves, held in the Bank of England’s vaults, and a similar sum held by Deutsche Bank.
The High Court ordered a trial to determine whether the Guaido Board or the Maduro Board had control over the disputed sums. The High Court found for the Guaido Board. The Maduro Board successfully appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Guaido Board now appealed to the Supreme Court.
Held: The appeal succeeded.
The recognition of foreign states, governments and heads of states is a matter for the executive. Courts in this jurisdiction thus accept statements made by the executive as conclusive as to whether an individual is to be regarded as a head
of state.
The distinction between the recognition of a government de jure and de facto is now unlikely to have any useful role to play before courts in this jurisdiction. Courts in this jurisdiction are bound to accept HMG’s statements which establish that Mr Guaido is recognised by HMG as the constitutional interim President of Venezuela and that Mr Maduro is not recognised by HMG as President of Venezuela for any purpose.


Lord Reed (President), Lord Hodge (Deputy President), Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Hamblen,
Lord Leggatt


[2021] UKSC 57, [2021] WLR(D) 638, [2022] 2 WLR 167


Bailii, Bailii Summary, Bailii Issues and Facts, WLRD


England and Wales

Constitutional, International

Updated: 25 April 2022; Ref: scu.671051