The Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier ( Blake ) to the Secretary of State

No. 67

Sir: I have the honor to enclose herewith the French text, and English translation, of a communication which I have received from the Belgian Consul-General containing a proposal that direct official contact be established between the American Consular Court at Tangier and the Mixed Court, created under the provisions of the Tangier Convention of 18th, December 1923.2 Identical communications have also been received from the Consuls General of Spain, of Great Britain, of France and of Holland in Tangier.

I also transmit to the Department herewith a copy of my reply to each of the notes above mentioned.

My communications to my colleagues set forth my personal opinion in regard to this matter, but I venture to trust that the position, which I have taken, may be found to be in accordance with the views of the Department on the subject.

I have [etc.]

Maxwell Blake
[Enclosure 1—Translation]

The Belgian Consul General at Tangier ( Watteeuw ) to the American Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier ( Blake )

No. 110/A (M–3)

Mr. Diplomatic Agent and Dear Colleague: The Convention of December 18th, 1923 signed at Paris between the British, Spanish and French Governments, and to which the Governments of Belgium and Holland subsequently adhered, stipulates by Article 13 that “as a result of the establishment at Tangier of the Mixed Court, as provided [Page 717] in article 48, the capitulations shall be abrogated in the Zone.[”] Article 48 adds that [“]an international jurisdiction, called the Mixed Court of Tangier, and composed of French, British and Spanish magistrates, shall be responsible for the administration of justice to the nationals of foreign Powers.” It provides that the Mixed Court of Tangier will replace the existing Consular jurisdictions.

Accordingly, from June 1st 1925, the date upon which the Statute was applied, I divested myself, in favor of the aforementioned Mixed Court, of the jurisdictional powers which I held in regard to Belgian subjects and protégés, under the regime of the capitulations; the Belgian Consular Court, over which I presided at Tangier ceased to exist on the same date, and the Mixed Court of Tangier has thenceforth dealt with all new Belgian judicial cases, in civil, commercial and criminal matters, in accordance with the conditions set forth in the texts above referred to. Furthermore the Registrar’s Office of the Mixed Court has, as a matter of course, replaced the Registrar’s Office of the Belgian Consular Court, installed up to that time, in the chancery of the Belgian Consulate General.

It would appear useful to determine the conditions in which the relations of a judicial order between the Consular Court of your Diplomatic Agency and these new organizations should be continued. Two solutions appear to me to be possible.

Whenever the Consular Court of the United States of America would have to address this Consulate General on a judicial matter involving a Belgian interest, it would do so through our intermediary, but in acceding to your request, I could only transmit your demand to the Mixed Court. Inversely, whenever the Mixed Court, dealing with a Belgian matter, would have to enter into relations with your jurisdiction, this Court would have to pass its request through this Consulate General, which would transmit it to you. This procedure has the disadvantage of being lengthy.
Does it not appear possible to you to adopt a more simple method, and to agree that, concerning any case involving a Belgian interest or element before either of these two jurisdictions, the Consular Court of the United States of America and the Mixed Court of Tangier, as well as their respective Registrar’s Offices, shall enter into direct written or verbal relations? You might let me know who, in the Diplomatic Agency of the United States of America, is the person that would be entrusted with this service.

The Mixed Court has already contemplated the necessity of having a Magistrate carry out this function, and the Judges forming the Tribunal have designated the President of the Section of Appeal. [Page 718] It would be this high Magistrate, in the present hypothesis, who would assure the contact between the two jurisdictions.

I beg you will kindly let me know your views in this connection. So far as I am concerned, I should be pleased to see the second solution adopted, which simplifies and accelerates the procedure; it has therefore two advantages which we have not the right to neglect and which are essential in an international town, when judicial action must, in commercial and criminal matters (attachments, execution of judgments, arrests, hearing of witnesses, etc.) manifest itself with the least possible delay.

I avail myself [etc.]

M. Watteeuw
[Enclosure 2]

The American Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier ( Blake ) to the Belgian Consul General at Tangier ( Watteeuw )

Mr. Consul-General and Dear Colleague: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of January 30th, 1926, submitting suggestions as to procedure to be adopted for the purpose of creating contact between the American Consular Court and the Mixed Court of Tangier, as a result of the fact that, conformably with the terms of the Tangier Convention of December 18th, 1923, the Belgian Consular Court has surrendered its extraterritorial jurisdiction in the Tangier Zone to the last mentioned Tribunal.

In reply, I would inform you that the proposal contained in your Note hereby acknowledged, for a “liaison” between the jurisdiction of the United States Consular Court and that of the Mixed Tribunal in Tangier, does not appear practicable, in the circumstances.

It is evident that the extraterritorial jurisdiction, and the position of the Consular Court of the United States in Tangier is entirely unmodified by the provisions of the Tangier Convention, to which the United States has not adhered.

The jurisdiction of the American Consular Court and the procedure followed in that Court, are entirely independent of, and separate from, the jurisdiction and procedure of the Mixed Court of Tangier, both Courts holding towards each other the position of foreign jurisdictions.

Belgian subjects being, as you explain, now deferred to the jurisdiction of the Mixed Court, it follows that an American plaintiff will automatically have recourse against a Belgian defendant in that Court, and will be subject to its rules of procedure and other regulations, so far as concerns the prosecution of his suit.

[Page 719]

On the other hand Belgian subjects will continue to sue American citizens and protégés, who appear as defendants in suits, before the American Consular Court, the preliminary step in the procedure being, as heretofore, a note of introduction and indication of the plaintiff’s nationality delivered by the Belgian Consul-General.

Reciprocally the nationality of any Belgian defendant will be officially certified to by the Belgian Consul-General, prior to the initiation of the American plaintiff’s suit before the Mixed Tribunal, upon the request of the American suitor, following an administrative introduction of him to the Belgian Consulate General, by the American Diplomatic Agency and Consulate-General.

If the necessity is deemed to arise for attachments, injunctions and arrests, under the jurisdiction of the American Consular Court, by parties to a suit before the Mixed Court, it will be incumbent upon such parties to initiate, concurrently, independent proceedings to the end desired, before the Consular Court of the United States in Tangier.

Testimony required of American citizens and protégés, who will not voluntarily give their depositions in the course of proceedings interesting a Belgian subject before the Mixed Tribunal, may be taken by an American Consular Officer in Tangier, who is commissioned to take such depositions, on the exhibition of an order duly made to the parties concerned, by the Mixed Court, and signified to the American Consular Authority by the Belgian Consulate-General.

Finally, I find it difficult to conceive any circumstances, in Tangier, in which the execution of a judgment would simultaneously involve the jurisdiction of the American Consular Court and of the Mixed Tribunal, since judgments could be pronounced, and made executory by either Court, only against persons within the respective jurisdictions of these Courts.

In view of the foregoing, I venture to assume that adequate contacts for the administration of justice, between two separate and distinct systems of judicial control, each exercising independently identically similar powers, while co-existing side by side in the same community, are already provided for, without the necessity of creating any other nexus, than that which has been fixed by the customs of the country and confirmed by practices of long observance.

Please accept [etc.]

Maxwell Blake
  1. French text and English translation printed in Great Britain, Cmd. 2096, Morocco No. 1 (1924): Convention Regarding the Organisation of the Statute of the Tangier Zone, Signed at Paris, December 18, 1923; also in League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. xxviii, p. 541.