Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fisheries Jurisdiction (United Kingdom v. Iceland) case brief

Fisheries Jurisdiction (United Kingdom v. Iceland)

Procedural History:
This case is a proceeding before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

FACTS:
-In 1961, the United Kingdom (Plaintiff) recognized Iceland's (D) claim to a 12-mile fisheries limit.  This was in return for Iceland's (D) agreement that any dispute concerning Icelandic fisheries jurisdiction beyond the 12-mile limit be referred to the International Court of Justice.
-In 1972, Iceland proposed to extend its exclusive fisheries jurisdiction from 12 to 50 miles around its shores.
-As a result, the United Kingdom (P) filed an application before the ICJ.
-
Iceland (D) claimed that the agreement was no longer valid due to changed circumstances - being that the 12-mile limit was now generally recognized and that there would be a failure of consideration for the 1961 agreement.

Issue:

Does there have to be a radical transformation of the extent of the obligations that need to be performed for there to be a "change of circumstances" that give rise to a ground for invoking a termination of a treaty?

HOLDING:  Yes.
-In order for a change of circumstances to give rise to a ground for invoking the termination of a treaty it is necessary that the change has resulted in a radical transformation of the extent of the obligations still to be performed.
-The change must have increased the burden of the obligations yet to be executed to the extent of rendering the performance something essentially different from that initially undertaken.
-The change of circumstances alleged by Iceland in this case cannot be said to have transformed radically the extent of the jurisdictional obligation that was imposed in the 1961 Exchange of Notes.

Rule:

-In order for a change in circumstances to give rise to a ground for invoking the termination of a treaty, it is necessary that the change has resulted in a radical transformation in regards to the obligations that are still to be performed.

Analysis:

The original agreement between the parties provided for recourse to the I.C.J. in the event of a dispute arising.
Iceland’s economy was highly dependent on fishing.
The Court did not reach the merits of Iceland’s argument here, but instead the court dealt with the jurisdictional issues at hand.

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