The Chargé in Egypt ( Winship ) to the Secretary of State

No. 63

Sir: I have the honor to refer to Despatch No. 1008, dated May 20,18 and No. 1018, of June 8, 1927, on the Egyptian Mixed Courts, as well as the Memorandum drawn up by me while at the Department on May 3rd,18 and to report as follows:

The agitation for the removal of the Mixed Court of Appeals from Alexandria to Cairo has, in the face of other more pressing and serious political questions been shelved, at least for the present. This is also true of the “Proposals looking to the amendment of the organic law of the Mixed Courts”, which included a clause giving the Government the right to fix the domicile of the Court of Appeals.

The pressure of work on the Court of Appeals, complained of by [Page 568] the Court two years ago, continues, and although a Chamber of five new judges could have been formed and added to the Court of Appeals now consisting of three Chambers of five judges each, this was opposed and a new Chamber of only three judges was proposed. For this departure the consent of the Powers was required and as shown, the request was embodied in the general amendment scheme which has been shelved for political reasons.

The Government, however, has the power, I am informed, to appoint additional judges to the Court of Appeals, and is not in favor of segregating the request for the creation of the new Chamber of three from the other proposals.

The stagnation in the Court of Appeals is so great that it is now believed that the Government will, if the political situation settles down, appoint two new Judges to the Court of Appeals: a native and a foreigner. These would be supernumerary Judges, to fill in and sit with either of the three Chambers when a Judge is ill or absent and to collaborate.

This proposal brings the names of Houriet, a Swiss to the fore as he is the senior Judge of First Instance in Egypt.

Next in line is Judge Molostvoff, a Russian, and the third in seniority is Judge Crabitès, the American Judge. The latter is, therefore, the senior Judge of First Instance of a Capitulatory country and while a non-Capitulatory Judge might be appointed to the Court of Appeals, Judge Crabitès has brought the point, above mentioned, to the attention of the Legation. If a non-Capitulatory Judge is named, I am informed, it will create a precedent and it would seem possible, therefore, that the Egyptian Government might adhere to the precedent already established and retain the Court of Appeals for judges of Capitulatory Powers.

With regard to the question of equal representation on the Mixed Courts, the Government is most anxious for independence of action, and a larger and more important Egyptian representation. I enclose herewith a memorandum of a conversation which took place on March 28, 1927, between Minister Howell and Saroit Pasha, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, which was apparently not forwarded with Despatch No. 980. The Egyptian Government has not replied or in any way referred to the above mentioned conversation or representations and I shall await instructions from the Department before taking any steps in this matter or in the point raised by Judge Crabitès.

I have [etc.]

North Winship
[Page 569]

Memorandum of an Interview Between the American Minister (Howell) and the Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs (Saroit)

Today, by previous appointment, the Minister discussed with His Excellency Saroit Pasha, Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the question of equal representation of the Capitulatory Powers on the Mixed Courts of Egypt.

The Minister first referred to his Note to the Foreign Office, of April 9, 1926, stating that the Egyptian Government evidently read into this note a meaning which does not follow from the statements therein made; that it was not his intention, nor the intention of his Government, to propose that the seat presently to be vacant on the Cairo Mixed Court of First Instance should be filled by an American.

The Minister then discussed, paragraph by paragraph, the reply of the Egyptian Government, dated May 16, 1926, taking particular exception to the closing paragraph of this note. The Foreign Minister here observed that the United States Government had made no objections when a departure from equal representation on the Courts was made in 1915. The American Minister replied that no protest had been presented at that time for the reason that his Government was considering a proposition from the British Government, which, if it had been accepted by his Government and the other Great Powers, would have changed the complexion, or organization, of these Courts, but that the proposition was not carried through, perhaps, for the reason that on September 4, 1921, the Egyptian Government sent a circular note to the various Capitulatory Powers represented in Egypt,19 stating that it did not view it expedient to establish a new organization of these courts by the time proposed. The Minister further observed that his Government did not feel that, because no protest was made in 1915, for the reasons above noted, it was excluded from entering one at the present time, but before making any further representations in the matter, that his Government felt it was essential for the Egyptian Government to set forth at greater length and in greater detail the arguments which led it to the conclusions in its Note of May 16, 1926. In other words, that it should show clearly upon what evidence it arrived at the conclusion expressed in that note with respect to Sir Henry Elliot’s letter.

The Foreign Minister here stated that he thoroughly understood the position taken by the United States Government and that in due [Page 570] time he would take up with the Minister of Justice all the points raised by the American Minister, and that, so soon as he had all the facts, he would reply.

The discussion lasted more than three-quarters of an hour. No Aide Memoire was left with the Foreign Minister.

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