The first meeting of the tribunal, on 14 October 1874, was a solemn occasion, but it is doubtful that those present were fully aware of the historic nature of their meeting. Representative Moura opened the session at four in the afternoon. Seated facing him in the main office of the Protectorate was a grand mandarin in the service of the royal government. Saigon’s state attorney Augier sat next to him flanked by Chhun, the chief interpreter of the Protectorate. The plaintiff, Thomas Caraman, listened intently as Moura and Augier declared in their opening speeches that the tribunal was competent to try the case in question, emphasizing that the two parties in conflict had agreed to accept the tribunal’s ruling. After opening statements, the dates for subsequent sessions were agreed upon. The following day, the two parties could hand in evidence, while four more days were reserved for the questioning of witnesses. At five, one hour before sunset, the tribunal went into recess for the night.1