390d.1141 Ab 8/3

The Secretary of State to the Consul at Beirut (Knabenshue)

Sir: The Department acknowledges the receipt of your despatch No. 1297 dated February 4, 1924, with reference to the case of Mr. [Page 752] Joe Abraham, an American citizen now residing in the United States, who has been sued in the local courts of Syria for an alleged breach of contract.

The Department has noted your statements concerning the rights which American citizens have in respect of legal cases under the Capitulations, and particularly your statement with reference to the fact that the attachment sued out in the case of Mr. Joe Abraham constitutes, more or less, an act of execution of a judgment.

The Department is in agreement with you that, if the act of attachment is in the nature of an execution of a judgment, you should protest against the attachment and endeavor to protect Mr. Abraham’s interest as an American citizen.

With reference to the question which you raised in the last paragraph of your despatch, concerning the service of summons in the United States which have been issued by local courts in Syria for service through the American Consulate, the Department may observe that it has no authority to serve judicial processes in the United States. Further, it may be stated that the general rule in the United States is that “valid service of process cannot be made upon a defendant outside the territorial jurisdiction of the court so as to confer jurisdiction over a person.” (Vol. 32, Cyc. of Law, p. 455.)

In considering the question of service upon a person without the jurisdiction of the court, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals stated, in the case of Jennings v. Johnson, 148 Fed. 337, on page 339, that, “in the absence of express statutory authority, there is no power in a court to order actual personal service of process upon a defendant beyond its territorial jurisdiction.”

In view of these statements of law, it would appear that processes which, by reason of extraterritorial privileges, must be served through the American Consulate Court, may not be served outside of the jurisdiction of the Consular Court, which obviously does not extend to the United States.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
William Phillips