Parties disagree over the Applicable law. France contended that, though a party to the 1958 Geneva convention on Continental Shelf she had entered reservations to article 6 to which the UK had objected, with the result that the convention, or at leas art 6, was not in force between the parties. The applicable law therefore CIL as reflected in the North Sea Continental Shelf Cases, subsequent state practice and the work of UN Conference LOS III. In the alternative if the court were to find the 1958 convention applicable, the channel island sector and the Atlantic sector exhibited ‘special circumstances’ so to exclude the equidistance method.
1. In the absence of a specific agreement France will not accept that any boundary of the continental shelf determined by the application of the principle of equidistance shall be invoked against it.
UK argued that although attached to art 6, it was a reservation to 3, 4, or to the rules of CIL regarding the use of straight baselines therefore is inadmissible
2. (1…) if it extends beyond the 200 metre isobath
UK argued that although attached to art 6, it has to be read jointly to the interpretative declaration of art 1, since they are connected, and since reservation to 1 is inadmissible under 12, therefore reservation to 6 is inadmissible
3. (1…) if it lies in areas where, in France opinion, there are special circumstances
UK did not contended it, but said that it was not reservation but interpretative declaration
1. Constructed according to the natural meaning of its terms 1, is a general reservation designed to protect France, in absence of agreement, against continental shelf boundary delimited by application of the equidistance principle and by reference to the straight lines baselines established after 1958. It is a true reservation and a reservation to art 6, not to CIL related to straight baselines. The reservation does not say to protect France against the use of SB by other states in any context other than the delimitation of the continental shelf, when entering into a new obligation, under an entirely new convention, with respect the use of equidistance method in the delimitation of continental shelf, no rule of IL precluded France from formulating a reservation regarding the role of straight baselines in the application of that method as a condition of its acceptance