Fisheries Jurisdiction Case UK v Iceland Jurisdiction

1948 the Parliament of Iceland passed a law establishing fisheries conservation zones (zone adjacent to a coastal state’s territorial sea within it has exclusive jurisdiction over fishing). 1951 Iceland proclaimed 12-mile exclusive fishing zone 1961 by exchange of notes, UK & Iceland agreed that UK would no longer object the 12-mile fishery zone and Iceland that would notify the UK of any extension and in case of dispute in relation to such extension ICJ 1970 Iceland claimed 50-mile fishery zone. Iceland sought to terminate rebus sic stantibus FCC the 1961 exchange of notes by which each party could refer a dispute concerning Iceland’s extension of its fishing zone to the ICJ, as the UK had done On the other hand Iceland said: the 1961 exchange of notes took place under extremely difficult circumstances, when the British Royal Navy had been using force to oppose the 12 mile fishery limit

VCLT can be regarded as codification of CIL. One basic requirement is that change of circumstances must have been a fundamental one. Iceland refers increasing exploitation of fisheries resources. Those changes can be related to the merits of the dispute but they do not affect the obligation to submit to the court jurisdiction. The changes in fishing techniques do not constitute a fundamental change of circumstances to lapse the compromissory clause establishing the Court’s jurisdiction Moreover, a fundamental change of circumstances, in order to terminate a treaty, must transform the obligations to be performed. FCC does not operate automatically neither allow unilateral denunciation; it only confers a right to call for the termination. The compromissory clause is the procedural complement of FCC An agreement under threat or use of force is void, however, the court cannot consider an accusation of this nature on the basis of a vague general unfortified by evidence to support. The history of the negotiations reveals that the instruments were freely negotiated.