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

No. 76

Sir: With reference to Mr. Engert’s despatch No. 153 of October 12, 1934,12 enclosing a copy of the French text of circular Note No. 27, addressed to the Legation on that date by the Egyptian Foreign Office, regarding the right of Egyptian judges to preside over chambers of the Mixed Courts and the use of the Arabic language in pleadings and judgments, I should be pleased to have you reply to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in substantially the following language:

“I am instructed by my Government to acknowledge the receipt of circular Note No. 27 which Your Excellency’s predecessor addressed to the Powers on October 12, 1934, with regard to certain questions pertaining to the organization and functioning of the Mixed Tribunals.

“Although my Government feels impelled to record its definite dissent from the views concerning the Mixed Tribunals which are expressed in the fourteenth and fifteenth paragraphs of the circular note under reference, it considers that no useful purpose would be served by entering upon a discussion of that part of the note or commenting upon its tenor.

“With reference to the question of Egyptian judges presiding over Chambers of the Mixed Tribunals, my Government accepts without question the estimate of Egyptian judges held by their foreign colleagues, as expressed by the latter in their decision of February 21, 1934. Accordingly, my Government is prepared in principle to take whatever steps may be necessary to open the way to Egyptian judges to preside over chambers of the Court.

“It is my Government’s understanding, however, that the General Assembly of the Court of Appeals has judicially determined that certain sections of the organic laws of the courts do not permit the election of Egyptian judges as presidents of the chambers. In order to permit of such election, therefore, it would seem necessary to effect a modification of the existing regulations and if the Egyptian Government should desire to propose an amendment of those regulations which would specifically authorize the election of Egyptian judges as presiding officers, I am authorized to state that the United States Government will be pleased to give such a proposal its prompt and sympathetic consideration.

“It is difficult to see what provision for the use of the Arabic language in the Mixed Tribunals can be made beyond that contained in [Page 575] the present regulations providing for the use of Arabic, English, French and Italian in the pleadings and in the preparation of documents and proceedings. In the view of my Government the question as to which of these languages shall be used in the Tribunals in any particular instance is entirely within the competence of the Mixed Tribunals and to be determined solely with a view to the prompt and effective administration of justice. My Government would view with disfavor any attempt to induce the Mixed Tribunals to take a decision in the matter of languages which would hamper the judges in the proper performance of their important duties. However, if the Egyptian Government desires to propose a new regulation regarding the use of the present official languages, designed further to improve the functioning of the Courts and the administration of justice, the United States Government will be pleased to give it prompt consideration.”

Very truly yours,

Cordell Hull
  1. Not printed.