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Reports from Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad respecting Consular Conventions.
Sir A. Buchanan to Earl Granville.-(Received February 7.)
Vienna, February 5, 1872.
WITH reference to your Lordship's Circular despatch of the 28th of August last, I have the honour to inform your Lordship that the only Consular Conventions as yet concluded by the Austro-Hungarian Empire with other countries are: one signed on the 11th of December, 1866, with France; and another, concluded on the 11th of July, 1870, with the United States of North America.
I have the honour to inclose copies of these Treaties; and I am informed by the Director of the Commercial Department of the Foreign Office here, that similar Conventions are now being negotiated with Italy and Portugal.
The promulgation of the Convention with America has been so recent, that no opinion can yet be expressed upon its working; but I am assured that the most satisfactory results have been secured by the Articles X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, of the Convention with France, having reference to investigations by judicial or fiscal authorities on board merchant-vessels, to the maintenance of discipline, and the settlement of disputes between the master and the crews respecting wages, and to the arrest of deserters, and also with reference to cases of averages and salvage.
I am told that, in such matters, previously to the conclusion of the Convention, questions frequently arose between local and Consular officers, as to the rights of jurisdiction claimed by the latter; but that now these rights having been clearly defined by Treaty, they are never called in question, and every facility is afforded to Consuls for the discharge of their duties.
Your Lordship will observe, that the American Treaty contains an Article, No. XVI, by which it is stipulated that the local authorities shall give notice to the Consuls of the Contracting Parties in the event of subjects or citizens of the country dying in the other, without any known heirs, and without having appointed testamentary executors.
This Article is not contained in the Treaty with France; but a special Treaty for the administration of the property of French subjects dying in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and of Austro-Hungarian subjects dying in France, of which I inclose a copy, was concluded on the same day as the Consular Convention,
I am assured that the effects of this Convention have been most satisfactory.
With reference to the jurisdiction of Consular officers, I may add, that your Lordship has doubtless been informed by Her Majesty's Embassy at St. Petersburgh, that had it not been for privileges secured by Treaty to French Consuls, being enjoyed by Her Majesty's Consuls, under the most-favoured-nation clause of the Treaty of Navigation between Great Britain and Russia, the local judicial authorities would have refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of British Consular officers in cases of minor offences committed by seamen on board British merchant-vessels frequenting the ports of the Sea of Azoff.
I have, &c.
(Signed) ANDREW BUCHANAN.