In a memorandum, dated June 4 of this year, it was stated in conclusion that the decision given by the chief justice of Samoa, according to which all custom duties would pertain to the Government of Samoa, was receiving the consideration of the State Department.

This question having likewise been carefully considered by the foreign office at Berlin, on the representation made by the German consul at Apia under date of April 20 of this year, the Imperial Government is of opinion that the decision arrived at by the chief justice ought not to be sanctioned. For this opinion the following reasons are given:

As the carrying out of the decision of the supreme court would deprive the municipality of the largest part of their income, it has not met with the approval of that body, and has furthermore created strong antagonism on the part of the European and Australian papers, while the Department has no doubt been aware of the criticism of the American press.

The decision of Mr. Cedercrantz has furthermore been taken without giving the municipal council an opportunity to make remonstrances [Page 642] and state their rights, while it does away with a state of affairs hitherto recognized by the treaty powers to be founded on the principle of equity.

It is furthermore in no way in conformity with the stipulations of section 3, Article vi, of the Samoan general act relating to the distribution of revenues, which provisions, according to the opinion held by the Imperial Government, undoubtedly refer also to customs duties.

Considering the fact that the customs duties are almost entirely paid by the members of the municipality, it seems only just that their amount should be retained for municipal purposes.

Such appropriation of funds would furthermore guarantee a profitable and proper utilization thereof, which under existing circumstances could hardly be expected if handed over to the Government.

The Imperial Government trust that the United States Government will concur in the view that the former practice of appropriating the amount of customs duties for municipal purposes should remain unchanged.

In the case of consent it would be necessary to inform the consuls residing at Apia of the concurring opinion taken by the governments of the three treaty powers and to instruct them to address a joint communication on behalf of their governments to the president of the municipal council, authorizing him to receive as heretofore the customs duties for the use of the municipality.

A similar communication would have to be sent to the chief justice.

The Imperial Government takes it to be an established fact that the decisions given by the chief justice in the interpretation of the Samoan general act are in no way binding for the treaty powers.

An authoritative confirmation of this view is furthermore found in section 4 of Article iii of the Samoan general act, which states that the decision or order of the court in questions arising under the provisions of the general act shall be conclusive “upon all residents of Samoa.”

This legation would be greatly obliged for an expression of the opinion held by the State Department on the subject under consideration.