My story is full of holes. The first hole, or rather, ditch, was dug in 1930 by the municipality of Haifa. An Arab, Dr. Caesar Khoury, fell into the ditch and fractured his shoulder-blade.
Could Dr. Khoury recover? The law of torts of mandatory Palestine was found in the Mejelle — an Ottoman code of Moslem civil law. Did the Mejelle provide a remedy in the case of personal injury? “Unfortunately,” said Judge Francis Baker, who delivered the opinion of the Supreme Court of Palestine, “the Mejelle dealt with liability for damages caused by animals to property, but it was ‘silent’ with regards to injuries caused to persons”. Therefore, Dr. Khoury could not recover.
The second hole in my story belongs to a Jew, Feivel Danovitz. In 1939, Danovitz was run down by a truck in Tel Aviv. He sued the driver and the owner of the truck. The lower courts of Tel Aviv decided that if the Mejelle did not deal with liability for personal injury, that meant that there was a hole in the tort law of Palestine. Such a hole could be filled by recourse to the English common law in accordance with the provisions of Article 46 of the Palestine Order-in-Council, 1922. Since the English common law recognized liability for personal injury, Danovitz could recover.