Ambiatelos Case Greece v UK Merits (obligation to arbitrate)

Greece, having taken up the case of one of its nationals asked the court to declare that claim against the UK must, in accordance with the Treaties of 1886 and 1926 between Greece and UK, be submitted to arbitration. Ambiateleos suffered losses in consequence of a contract which he concluded in 1919 with the UK government (ministry of shipping) for the purchase of 9 steamships, and in consequence of certain adverse judicial decisions in the English courts in connection therewith

The distinctive character of this case is that quite unlike the Mavromatis Palestine Concessions PCIJ 1924 the ICJ is called upon to decide, not its own jurisdiction, but whether a dispute should be referred to another tribunal for arbitration. Two contentions put forward by Greece and contested by the UK. One based on the most favoured nation clause in Art X of the treaty of 1886 which would permit Greece to invoke the benefits of Treaties concluded by the UK with 3rd States and obtain redress for a denial of justice Mr Ambiatelos have suffered if the facts alleged were true. The other contention, based on Art XV, rest on an interpretation of the words ‘free access to the courts of justice’ Having regard of those contentions as well as the divergence of views which give arise to them, the court must conclude that this is a case in which the Hellenic government is presenting a claim on behalf of a private person based on treaty 1886 and the difference between the parties is the kind of difference which should be submitted to arbitration