Mr. Beardsley to Mr. Fish.
Cairo, August 18, 1874. (Received September 16.)
Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith copies and translation of a correspondence which has taken place between this office and his excellency Cherif Pasha, minister of justice, in relation to the formation of a special tribunal for the trial of cases pending at the time the new courts shall be organized and go into operation.
As the result of several conversations on the subject, his excellency sent me his first letter, (inclosure No. 1,) by which you will perceive that a protocol has been signed by the representatives of Austria-Hungary and of Egypt, providing for the formation of a special tribunal, to consist of a court of first instance and a court of appeal, before which the claimants will be invited to bring their cases within a delay of three months from the organization of the new tribunals.
This special tribunal will, in its deliberations, be governed by the rules of procedure laid down for the new tribunals, but will base its judgments upon the laws and legal customs in vigor at the time the claims originated.
Claimants who fail to take advantage of this privilege may always resort to the regular new tribunal, which, in such cases, will base their decisions upon the laws and legal customs in vigor at the time the claims originated, instead of upon the laws of the new code. Thus far all appears to be plain and simple. The statement, however, that the special court or chamber of first instance and the special court or chamber of appeal were both to be “composed by the corps of magistrates sitting in Egypt, of judges “belonging to the tribunal or to the court,” did not appear to me to be sufficiently clear and definite, and I addressed a note to the minister, (inclosure No. 2,) asking for either a copy of the protocol in question or a résumé of its provisions, especially of those provisions relating to the number and nationality of the judges.
His excellency the minister answered (inclosure No. 3) by sending me a translation of the adhesion of the government of Austria-Hungary to the protocol.
You will observe by a reference to this translation that the entire matter of the organization of these special courts is disposed of as follows: The claimants will be invited to present “their regular claims to [Page 1194] a senate, established for this purpose by the tribunal of first instance, from the decision of which it will be legal for the parties to appeal to a senate or a tribunal of appeal delegated for this purpose. The composition of these colleges of first and second instance will be made by the respective tribunals themselves, and in the manner which has been proposed in general for the composition of the senate.”
This leaves the matter in as much uncertainty as before, so far as the all important question of the nationality and number of the personnel of the special courts are concerned.
Cher if Pasha informs me that the members of the special courts in question will be of the same nationality and number as of the regular new tribunals, that, in fact, the special courts and the regular courts of the new tribunals will be practically the same.
The negotiations between Austria-Hungary and Egypt were carried on between Nubar Pasha and Mr. Ceschirii, the agent and Consul-general of Austria. Both Nubar Pasha and Mr. Ceschini are now out of Egypt.
Besides myself, there are but three consuls-general now in Egypt: those of England, France, and Italy; the remainder of the seventeen being on leave of absence. Neither England nor Italy have yet formally accepted the protocol, for the reason that its provisions are not sufficiently clear. France could not accept it, as she has not accepted the reform itself.
We are but little interested in the matter ourselves, having but few old cases to be settled. So soon as Mr. Ceschini returns, however, I will obtain a copy of the protocol itself and forward to you; it may be more satisfactory than the communications I have the honor to inclose herewith.
I will also be careful to inform you what action Great Britain takes in the matter.
Illness has prevented me from forwarding the papers herewith inclosed at an earlier date.
I am, &c.,