Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

In the estate of Grant, 1908

[succession, real estate]

In the estate of Grant

Supreme Consular Court, Constantinople
Source: The Times, 21 December 1908



A Cairo correspondent writes: - A new Order in Council for the Ottoman dominions is in course of preparation and will, in all probability, be passed.  Although the Ottoman Order in Council, 1899, is somewhat antiquated and many of the clauses are in need of revision, the real reason for the new Order is to remedy a decision of the Supreme Consular Court of Constantinople that Ottoman law governed successions to real property in Egypt.  The judgment, which occasioned considerable stir among the British community at the time and was the subject of a petition instituted by the Chamber of Commerce, was delivered by the full Court in the matter of Grant's estate.  The facts were shortly these:-

Dr. W. T. Grant died intestate and without direct heirs, leaving real estate in Egypt.  Dr. Grant had living at the time of his death a sister of the full blood and a brother and two sisters of the half blood.  These latter three were minors.  Under English law the sister of the full blood would exclude the children of the half blood.  But Mussulman law is in this respect more liberal in its tendency and admits stepchildren to participate in the distribution of the estate under similar circumstances.  In Egypt successions are classified under the head of statut personel, and are therefore governed by the law of and adjudicated upon by the Court of the State to which the deceased owed allegiance.

But the Judges came to the conclusion, after listening for two days to the arguments of counsel and taking a month to consider their judgment, that the law of England applies the lex res sitae, ansd that the case was therefore governed by the principles laid down 12 centuries ago by Mahomet and not by the English or any other system of jurisprudence.  It is now proposed to introduce the same rules of probate and administration with regard to the devolution of real property situate in Egypt as would obtain as if that property were in England.  Before the new Order is passed the draft will doubtless be submitted to the consular authorities and some modifications are likely to be introduced with a view to meeting the somewhat altered conditions obtaining in the rest of the Ottoman dominions.  It would be a great convenience if those responsible for the final firm of the Orders in Council would see that they were properly indexed.  The present system of reference is very defective.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School