883.05/416: Telegram

The Minister in Egypt ( Jardine ) to the Secretary of State


109. In conformity with the Department’s No. 108, October 28, 1931, I obtained an audience with the British High Commissioner, Sir Percy Loraine, on November 21, at which time I outlined to him our position and furnished him with our correspondence with the Egyptian Government. On December 8 the High Commissioner gave me an oral statement of his personal opinion on the subject.

While Sir Percy warmly welcomed the United States Government’s friendly attitude in authorizing me to state that, owing to Great Britain’s special position in Egypt, the greater number of judgeships which are held by British subjects is conceded as proper, and while the High Commissioner expressed every desire to give such proper assistance as lay within his power, he was personally apprehensive lest supporting the United States Government’s wishes regarding the Egyptian Government’s recognition of the principle of equality of representation as among the principal capitulatory powers on the Egyptian Mixed Courts would meet with the genuine difficulty of bringing about a change in the British Government’s attitude of both principle and practice as claimed to have been consistently followed in regard to the Mixed Courts. In Sir Percy’s view, there appear to be strong arguments favoring the Egyptian Government’s position not to recognize the principle of parity of representation, and it also appears inexpedient to insist upon such a principle, for should it be admitted the result probably would be that other great powers not represented now on the Mixed Courts would make claims difficult to refuse, and France and Italy would claim five judgeships as of right henceforth. Conceding such claims and that of any fixed [Page 148] proportion of national representation beyond three Mixed Court judgeships would tend to a conception of international rather than Egyptian courts, but the British Government’s consistent practice in matters affecting the filling of judgeships over and above those mentioned through the appointment of foreign nationals has been strictly to act on the principle of leaving to the Egyptian Government’s discretion the qualifications and nationality of candidates. Compliance with my request would accordingly involve reversing the conception long held by the British Government respecting the Mixed Courts, and it would not be possible, in Sir Percy’s opinion, for his Government to reverse its consistent attitude so far as to lend the requested support to the United States Government. In conclusion the High Commissioner requested me to consider the foregoing to be an expression of his personal views, since he is not able to reply definitely or officially until he has received a statement of the British Government’s views from the Foreign Office.

Recognition by the Egyptian Government of the principle of equality of representation is not likely to be attained by further diplomatic correspondence, pending reorganization and extension of the Mixed Courts, short of our giving notice of intention to withdraw from them. Pending this reorganization we might seek to attain actual equality with France and Italy through representations based upon our desire for equality as a great power and as one of four recognized capitulatory powers, without referring further to recognition at the present time of the principle. The situation might well be reviewed initially with London in the event of this latter approach.