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Ambassadors

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AMBASSADORS have certain important privileges in the country to which they are sent. These privileges may be grouped under two heads, inviolability of person and exterritoriality ; the former relating to the ambassadors person, the latter to his property. Accordingly no legal pro cess can affect ambassadors either in their person or their property ; or at least so much of the latter as is connected with their official character, such as their furniture, carriages, &c. And so ambassadors are not amenable to any criminal court of the country in which they reside. Thus in 1603, while the Due de Sully was the French Ambassador to England, one of his retinue quarrelled in London with some English, one of whom he killed. Justice being demanded, it was not done by a magistrate, but by the ambassador himself, who, after trying the man before a body of Frenchmen, condemned him to death and delivered him up to the civil power. James I. pardoned him, but no attempt was ever made to try him under the English law. By 7 Anne c. 12, all legal process against the person or goods of an ambas sador or of his domestic servants is declared to be void. The Act is really declaratory of the Common Law and of the Law of Nations. Its benefit may be claimed by any one who is actually in the domestic service of the ambassador, whether he is a British subject or a foreigner, provided he is not a merchant or trader within the bankruptcy laws. It is not necessary that he should be resident in the ambassador's house. But if he takes a house and uses it for any other purpose than that of residence, he so far loses his privilege, and his goods are liable to be distrained for rates. Whoever sues out or executes any process contrary to the provisions of the above Act, is punishable at the discretion of the Lord Chancellor and the Chief Justices as a violator of the Law of Nations and disturber of the public repose. No one, however, can be punished for arresting an ambassador's servant unless the name of such servant is registered with the Secretary of State, and by him transmitted to the Sheriff's of London and Middlesex. Moreover, the residence of an ambassador enjoys an immunity like that of his person and property. Not only is it protected from open outrage, but it is likewise exempted from being searched or visited, whether by the police, by revenue officers, or under colour of legal process of any description whatever.

AMBIGUITY.—Where a contract expresses *its intention with such uncertainty as to leave such intention unknown with precision, that contract will have no effect because of its ambiguity. Such an ambiguity is called patent, and it cannot be explained, nor can the intention of the contract be ascertained by any evidence other than that to be found in the contract itself. Where there is doubt on the face of the document, the law admits no

extrinsic evidence to supply it. Thus, in the body of a bill of exchange, it appeared in writing to have been drawn for Two hundred pounds, but in the margin the figures expressed the sum of .1,)245. There thus arose an ambi guity on the face of the document, and the Court refused to admit evidence to show that the bill was really intended to be drawn for £245. It was accordingly held that the bill was good only for the 1)200 expressed in the body of the bill in writing, for which sum the plaintiff obtaindl judgment, as he would at the present day. There are two exceptions to this rule, if such indeed they are. First, the Court will receive evidence of the proper meaning of the language when it is written in a foreign tongue. Secondly, it will also receive special evidence where technical words or peculiar terms, or indeed any expressions, are used which at the time the document was written had acquired a special meaning, either generally or by local usage, or amongst particular classes. It is a latent ambiguity as distinguished from patent, in either of the following cases—(a) where the parties to the contract have not put all its terms into writing ; (b) where terms of the contract require explanation; (c) where the contract relies upon the usages of a trade or the customs of a locality ; (d) where the contract is before the Court for the rectification of mistake or its cancellation. In such cases, extrinsic or outside evidence is available. Such evidence is usual in cases deciding identity. Thus, where a testator, after making provision for his son John, devised an estate to his " grandson John Iliscocks, eldest son of the said John." Now John the father had been twig married ; having a son by the first marriage, and John Hiscocks by the second. The question was, to whom should the estate go ? The Court decided that though it could not receive evidence of the testator's intentions, yet it could look at the surrounding circumstances, and with the knowledge arising from those facts alone decide the question. The above estate went to the grandson, John, though he was not the eldest son. So, where the contract is for one person to " enter into the employ" of another, evidence may be given as to the nature of the em ployment intended. And so where a farmer contracted in writing to sell "Ins wool," a previous conversation between him and the purchaser was re ceived as evidence that " his wool" meant wool in his posse:sion bought by him from other farmers. And where a lease professed to demise premises and a yard, the presumption that a cellar under the yard was also in tended to be leased, was allowed to be rebutted by extrinsic evidence. See CONTRACT.