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Colonial Cases

Khayat v, Beiruti, 1930

[religious courts]

Khayat v, Beiruti

Source: The Palestine Bulletin, 11 May 1930



Case That Has Lasted 6 Years.

   The case of Dr. Francois Khayat versus the heiress of Nagib Beiruti, Reina, which has been entangled in a web of conflicting judgment of the civil and religious courts of Palestine and Rome for the last six years, and wherein a sum of L.P. 1000 has been spent in legal proceeding in order to obtain damages amounting to only 800 pounds, was brought before the Special Tribunal to-day for a final unravelling.

   The Special Tribunal which was composed of the Chief Justice McDonnell, Mr. Justice Baker and the Latin Patriarch Louis, was called upon to judge whether the religious court of Rome which had decided that Dr. Khayat need not pay the heiress of Najib Beiruti the L.P. 800 which he had promised to give the girl upon marriage, of whether as the District Court of Jaffa has decided he must pay her the money.  Dr. Khayat appealed from the latter judgment claiming that the matter is within the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Court.

   Dr. Francis Khayat was represented by Shafik Asal and heiress of Beiruti by Dr. Eliash.

   After hearing the argument of Dr. Eliash which stated that this case is not within the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Court the Special Tribunal held a consultation.  Judgment is reserved.


The Palestine Bulletin, 12 May 1930

The Law Delays.

   We gave yesterday an account of the case which has been continuing for six years and the costs of which now far exceed the claim.  The stages in the six year battle are not without their interest and we give the story of the fight from one of the affidavits in the case.  The claim is by Reina Beiruti for L. 800 which Dr. Khayat promised to pay her, in the event of marriage, in 1924.

   In October 1925 there is a judgment in favour of Reina Beiruti for the sum of L.P. 800.

   In February 1926 the Court of Appeal confirms the judgment of the District Court.

   The Execution Office of Jaffa, in order to obtain the sum of L.P. 800, puts up the property of Dr. Khayat to auction.

   Dr. Khayat approaches the Latin Patriarchal Court.

   The Patriarchal Court decides that the whole matter is one for an ecclesiastical court and orders all proceedings to be stayed.  The case is then taken to the Sacra Rota in Rome.

   The Execution Officer refuses to obey the order of the Patriarchal Court.

   Dr. Khayat refers the case to the High Court of Justice and to a Special Court.

   In October 1926 the High Court orders a stay of execution.

   In March 1929 the Sacra Rota at Rome decides that Reina Beiruti could recover L.P. 800.  This decision is brought back to the Special Court in Jerusalem, which accepts it.

   Dr. Khayat points out to the court that the judgment of the Sacra Rota in Rome is not final.  The Special Court of Jerusalem promises Dr. Khayat that if the judgment of the Sacra Rota is upheld, then he can come back to the Special Court in Jerusalem.

   Early in March 1927, following the order of the Special Court, the Execution Officer in Jaffa sells Dr. Khayat's property in auction in order to pay the wife her L.P. 800.

   In September 1928, Dr. Khayat, (who had come to Palestine from Paris), is arrested and imprisoned because the full sum of L.P. 800 has not been paid.  At the end of the same month his sister guarantees the sum that was remaining and her brother is released and returns to Paris.

   In August 1929, the Signatora in Rome reverses the judgment of the Sacra Rota and decides that the doctor need not pay the money.  Upon this, the sister refuses to pay any further instalments.

   In December 1929, the mother of Reina requests the Execution Department of Jaffa to sell the property of Dr. Khayat's sister.

   In January 1930, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem issues an order, following the judgment of the Signatora in favour of Dr. Khayat.

   In the same month Dr. Khayat, through his attorney, presents the decision of the Patriarch to the Execution Office.  This was served on Reina.  At the same time the mother of Reina comes to the Execution Office and asks for the imprisonment of Dr. Khayat's sister, because she has sold her lands and has nothing on which execution can be levied, to pay the sum she has guaranteed for her brother.

   In February 1920, the Execution Office of Jaffa orders the arrest of the sister of Dr. Khayat.

   In March 1930, the President of the Execution Office issues an order in which he refuses to execute the judgment of the patriarch because, he claims, the case is not within the jurisdiction of the religious courts, and because judgment of a foreign court cannot be executed in Palestine.

   The parties now await the judgment of the special tribunal which, as was reported yesterday, is composed of the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Baker and the Latin Patriarch.  Dr. Khayat is represented by Mr. Shafik Asal while Dr. Eliash represents Reina Beiruti.

[No further reports of this case.]

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