This article examines debates among the judges of the Supreme Court of Mandatory Palestine about the proper scope of Anglicization of the law of Palestine. These debates were conducted while interpreting article 46 of the Palestine Order in Council – 1922. Article 46 required the courts of Palestine to use English law “so far only as the circumstances of Palestine and its inhabitants …permit.” By asking the courts to compare the inhabitants and "circumstances" of England and Palestine, the article forced the British judges in Mandatory Palestine to define themselves. The decisions of the Supreme Court of Palestine which interpreted this article can thus be read as a debate on British and native identity conducted between two distinct groups of British judges: One group was mainly composed of upper and middle class, public school educated English judges, still imbued with the notions of pre-First World War English colonialism. The second group came from a more marginal background. Because of this background, these judges felt more empathy towards the "natives" of Palestine and had less of a need to maintain a clear distinction between themselves and the natives. Consequently they were also more willing to provide the natives with the benefits of English law. The debate about Anglicization carried by British judges therefore reflected the identity of the participants. The ultimate result of the debate is that there was no single British judicial policy on questions of Anglicization. Different British judges had different views about what being British and being Jewish or Arab meant, and occupied different positions along the progress/tradition and English law/local law spectrum.
Comparative and Foreign Law | Jurisprudence | Law and Society | Legal History, Theory and Process
Date of this Version
, "In Our Image: Colonial Discourse and the Anglicization of the Law of Mandatory Palestine" (April 2008). Tel Aviv University Law Faculty Papers. Working Paper 81.