That the Dáil approves of the Convention regarding the Abolition of the Capitulations in Egypt, signed at Montreux on May 8th, 1937, a copy of which was laid on the Table of the Dáil on 6th day of April, 1938, and recommends the Government to take the necessary steps to ratify the said Convention.
The Convention abolishes the old régime of the capitulations under which nationals of certain foreign States were exempted from the jurisdiction of the Egyptain courts. A transitory régime of mixed tribunals composed of Egyptain and foreign judges is substituted by the Convention, to last until 1949. The mixed tribunals will be generally competent to try civil, commercial and criminal cases concerning foreigners.
The Régime of foreign capitulations originated in the Ottoman Empire, and was extended to Egypt when that country was part of the Ottoman Empire. The Treaty of Lausanne, 1923, abolished the capitulations in Turkish territory, but the provisions for abolition did not extend to Egypt. Irish nationals in Egypt succeeded to capitulatory rights by virtue of a number of treaties which were applied to our nationals at a time when our country formed part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. As a high contracting party to the Montreux Convention we will henceforth be entitled to have Irish nationals recognised as such by the mixed tribunals. Further, the mixed tribunals will be required to ascertain and apply Irish law in any case which may involve the personal status of an Irish citizen (marriage cases and the like).
Article 9 of the Convention makes it possible for States which formerly possessed consular courts in Egypt to retain them for the purpose of cases involving the personal status of their respective nationals. Apart, however, from the difficulty of arguing that Article 9 is applicable to Éire, which merely succeeds to a capitulatory Power, viz., the late United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, it is thought to be more in the interest of Egypt, now generally recognised as a sovereign State, to submit Irish personal status cases to the mixed tribunals. The plenipotentiary of Saorstát Éireann at Montreux (who signed the Convention on our behalf), acting on instructions, disclaimed any desire on the part of the Government to avail of Article 9 of the Convention.
Ratification on behalf of Éire will not entail necessity for any new legislation.
The Convention is already in force and has been ratified by Egypt, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Great Britain, Denmark, Netherlands and New Zealand.