Part B Commentary on Judgments and Awards in Maritime Boundary Delimitation Disputes, 3 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland v. French Republic (Decision of the ad hoc ‘Court of Arbitration’, 30 June 1977)
Stephen Fietta, Robin Cleverly
- Coastal states — Continental shelf — Delimitation — Straits — Territorial sea — UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea)
The chapter opens with an introduction to UK/France, which concerned the delimitation between France and the UK of the continental shelf boundary throughout the central and western portions of the English Channel and beyond. The chapter considers the two sides of this case in detail and provides a final analysis on the significance of the decision and its contribution to the field of international law. UK/France is a leading example of the use of ad hoc arbitration procedures to achieve a fast and effective result to a maritime delimitation dispute. UK/France is a classic example of a delimitation dispute where one State (the UK) argued for delimitation based on strict equidistance, while the other (France) argued that equidistance was not obligatory and should, in large part, be displaced by other methods in order to achieve a delimitation that was in accordance with ‘equitable principles’. While the outcome of the case represented a compromise between the two States’ various claims, the Decision represents a foundational example in modern jurisprudence of the use of equidistance as a starting point in maritime delimitation.