37 Am. J. Int'l L. 222 (1943)
The Settlement of Mexican Claims Act of 1942

handle is hein.journals/ajil37 and id is 228 raw text is: THE SETTLEMENT OF MEXICAN CLAIMS ACT OF 1942
By HERBERT W. BRIGGS
Of the Board of Editors
With the enactment on December 19, 1942, of the misnamed Settlement
of Mexican Claims Act of 1942, 1 American nationals with claims based
upon the international responsibility of Mexico for acts or omissions in
contravention of international law appear likely to receive long-delayed
satisfaction. Some of the claims are more than 60 years old. Awards were
made by the United States-Mexican General Claims Commission in favor of
some of the claimants more than 15 years ago, but to date no money has
been paid to the beneficiaries of these awards. Various factors appear to
have made this claims arbitration one of the most dilatory, inefficient, and
unfortunate in our history. Claimants were notoriously lax in presenting
evidence to the State Department,2 although in some cases they appear to
have been hindered by the Mexican Government from obtaining necessary
evidence in Mexico. The preambles to three conventions extending the
life of the General Claims Commission allege that it now appears or it
has been found that the Commission could not hear, examine, and decide
the claims within the time limit fixed; but Judge Fred K. Nielsen, American
Commissioner on that court, has pointed out with some vigor that it was
not the Commission, so much as the failure of American counsel and the
Department of State, to prepare cases for presentation to the Commission,
which caused the delay and paucity of decisions.3 Resignations of Com-
missioners, protracted delays in replacing them, antagonisms between Com-
missioners, and lack of cobperation by the Mexican Government were other
factors contributing to the 19-year delay in effecting a settlement.4
Since the Settlement of Mexican Claims Act of 1942 is primarily concerned
IPublic No. 814, 77th Cong., 2nd Sess. S. 2528, Congressional Record, Vol. 88, pp. 9710-
9713, 9748, 9814, 9840 (daily edition, Dec. 8, 11, 14, 1942). Cf. also Claims of American
Nationals Against Mexico. Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign
Relations, U. S. Senate, 77th Cong., 2nd Sess. on S.2528, June 30, July 1, 2, 6, 10, and 14,
1942. (Hereafter cited as Hearings.)
2Cf. the statement of Mr. Benedict M. English, Assistant Legal Adviser, Department of
State, before the Senate subcommittee, July 14, 1942: Despite the fact that the general
claimants had some 12 years in which to file their evidence, it is now proposed to open up the
matter again and to give claimants who had 12 years in which to file their evidence and who
were repeatedly requested and begged to file evidence but who failed to file it, still another
opportunity to file, thus probably jeopardizing the interests of the claimants who were dili-
gent and who filed their evidence. Hearings, pp. 142-143. Cf. also information to same
effect from Department of State, quoted by Hon. Sol Bloom in the House of Representatives,
Nov. 24, 1942. Cong. Rec., Vol. 88, p. 9415 (daily ed.). It has been pointed out, however,
that the Commissions and an American Agent directing the gathering of evidence were ac-
tive during only six or seven years.    3 Hearings, pp. 34-37, 216 if.
4 Cf. A. H. Feller, The Mexican Claims Commissions, 1923-1934 (1935), p. 56 ff.
222

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