The Minister in Egypt (Fish) to the Secretary of State
[Received 4:17 p.m.]
34. Department’s 30, March 23 , 6 p.m.23 The British Embassy handed me yesterday afternoon a draft in French of the proposals relative to the Mixed Courts which the Egyptians will submit to the conference for inclusion in the general convention to be signed there and a complete draft in French of the new charter of the Mixed Courts. The convention proposals included:
- the transitional period to begin on October 15, 1937, and to end on October 14, 1949;
- the number of judges of the various Mixed Courts will be specified at the conference but may be subsequently changed with the consent of the Court of Appeals;
- foreign vacancies in the Court of Appeals will be filled throughout the transitional period by foreign judges from the Courts of First Instance but all vacancies in the Courts of First Instance will be filled by Egyptians, although the number of foreign judges in each Court of First Instance must always be not less than one third of the judges of that court;
- no distinction based on nationality shall be made in the composition of the chambers or the presidencies of any of the courts;
- the Procurer General and one assistant must be foreigners;
- the Procurer General shall have supervision of all prisons for foreigners;
- personnel of the Mixed Courts and Mixed Parquet in the service on October 14, 1937 shall be retained.
- All vacancies in the Mixed Courts will be filled by Egypt acting independently.
Important changes proposed in the charter of the Mixed Courts are as follows:
- decisions shall be rendered in Arabic or any other judicial language, English, French, or Italian;
- the word foreign is defined as in Egyptian note of February 3;
- personal status matters shall come within the competence of the Mixed Courts;
- the National Courts may exercise jurisdiction over all who expressly or tacitly consent thereto;
- mixed interests do not in general give competence to the Mixed Courts;
- Egyptian corporations with serious foreign interests shall be subject to the Mixed Courts unless they have accepted the jurisdiction of the National Courts;
- the Mixed Courts shall have competence in bankruptcy cases if one of the creditors is a foreigner;
- all criminal jurisdiction over foreigners is transferred to the Mixed Courts;
- cases pending on November 1, 1937, shall remain in the court where begun and all decrees pronounced prior to that date shall be enforced;
- a suggested translation of revised article 11 is as
follows: The Mixed Courts may not entertain jurisdiction
directly or indirectly over acts of mediation. They may
neither pass on the validity of the application to
foreigners of Egyptian laws or regulations nor judge whether
Egyptian legislation is incompatible with the principles
generally adopted in modern legislation or whether such
legislation establishes a discrimination against foreigners.
Moreover, they may not give decisions affecting the
ownership of the public domain. But without power to
interpret an administrative act or stop its execution they
shall nevertheless be competent to recognize:
- in civil and commercial matters all suits between foreigners and the state involving movable or immovable property; and
- all actions in civil responsibility instituted by a foreigner against the state by reason of administrative measures taken in violation of the laws or regulations.
The British appear to have agreed to the convention proposals but not to all of the charter proposals.
The texts and suggested translations of the two drafts are being forwarded by air mail.
- Not printed.↩