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Mixed Courts of Egypt and International Arbitration

Philippe Leboulanger

ABSTRACT

Historically, Mixed Courts of Egypt, and recently international arbitration, have led to controversial debates as to their role in the Egyptian legal system.

The Mixed Courts have been and are often still considered an infringement of Egyptian sovereignty because they were established during colonialism. However, the courts came into existence because Egypt needed a new, efficient legal system to end the consular courts, which were created under the Capitulations Treaties in the Ottoman Empire and caused unequal and sometimes biased treatment of Egyptian nationals. But beyond the geopolitical and historical context, the Mixed Courts have contributed to the development of the modern Egyptian legal system and Egyptian heritage in comparative law and international private law.

Although the Mixed Courts and international arbitration proceedings are similar (e.g., different nationalities and legal backgrounds of judges and arbitrators, the possibility to apply different laws to the parties’ disputes), the historical and political context that resulted in the creation of the mechanisms is different. Thus, the claim that international arbitration would overstep Egyptian sovereignty is unfounded. On the contrary, Egypt’s desire to have a modern set of arbitration rules is shared with other States seeking participation in the economic globalization, and international arbitration has proved to be an appropriate mechanism for international trade dispute resolution.