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Français

Fisheries Jurisdiction (Spain v. Canada)

Overview of the case

On 28 March 1995, Spain filed in the Registry of the Court an Application instituting proceedings against Canada with respect to a dispute relating to the Canadian Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, as amended on 12 May 1994, to the implementing regulations of that Act, and to certain measures taken on the basis of that legislation, more particularly the boarding on the high seas, on 9 March 1995, of a fishing boat, the Estai, sailing under the Spanish flag. Spain indicated, inter alia, that by the amended Act an attempt was made to impose on all persons on board foreign ships a broad prohibition on fishing in the Regulatory Area of the North-West Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), that is, on the high seas, outside Canada’s exclusive economic zone, while expressly permitting the use of force against foreign fishing boats in the zones that that Act terms the “high seas”. Spain added that the implementing regulation of 3 March 1995 “expressly permit[s] such conduct as regards Spanish and Portuguese ships on the high seas”. The Application of Spain alleged the violation of various principles and norms of international law and stated that there was a dispute between Spain and Canada which, going beyond the framework of fishing, seriously affected the very principle of the freedom of the high seas and, moreover, implied a very serious infringement of the sovereign rights of Spain. As a basis of the Court’s jurisdiction, the Application referred to the declarations of Spain and of Canada made in accordance with Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute of the Court. As Canada contested the jurisdiction of the Court, on the basis of its aforementioned declaration, it was decided that the written pleadings should focus initially upon that question of jurisdiction. A Memorial of the Applicant and a Counter-Memorial of the Respondent were filed in that respect. By an Order dated 8 May 1996, the Court decided not to authorize the presentation of a Reply of the Applicant and a Rejoinder of the Respondent.

In its Judgment of 4 December 1998, the Court found that the dispute between the Parties was a dispute that had “ar[isen]” out of “conservation and management measures taken by Canada with respect to vessels fishing in the NAFO Regulatory Area” and “the enforcement of such measures”, and that, consequently, it was within the terms of one of the reservations in the Canadian declaration. The Court found that it therefore had no jurisdiction to adjudicate in the case.


This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.

Institution of proceedings

Written proceedings

Memorial of the Kingdom of Spain
(French version only)

28 September 1995
Procedure(s): Questions of jurisdiction and/or admissibility
Available in:
French
Annexes
(bilingual version) Bilingual

Counter-Memorial of Canada
(French version only)

29 February 1996
Procedure(s): Questions of jurisdiction and/or admissibility
Available in:
French
Annexes
(bilingual version) Bilingual

Oral proceedings

Verbatim record 1998/9

Public sitting held on Tuesday 9 June, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Schwebel presiding
Procedure(s): Questions of jurisdiction and/or admissibility
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 1998/10

Public sitting held on Wednesday 10 June, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Schwebel presiding
Procedure(s): Questions of jurisdiction and/or admissibility
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 1998/11

Public sitting held on Thursday 11 June, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Schwebel presiding
Procedure(s): Questions of jurisdiction and/or admissibility
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 1998/12

Public sitting held on Friday 12 June, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Schwebel presiding
Procedure(s): Questions of jurisdiction and/or admissibility
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 1998/13

Public sitting held on Monday 15 June, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Schwebel presiding
Procedure(s): Questions of jurisdiction and/or admissibility
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 1998/14

Public sitting held on Wednesday 17 June, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Schwebel presiding
Procedure(s): Questions of jurisdiction and/or admissibility
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Other documents

Orders

Order of 2 May 1995

Fixing of time-limits: Memorial and Counter-Memorial
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Judgments

Summaries of Judgments and Orders

Summary 1998/5

Summary of the Judgment of 4 December 1998
Available in:
English French

Press releases

Press release 1995/9

29 March 1995
Spain brings a case against Canada
Available in:
English French

Press release 1995/12

2 May 1995
Fisheries Jurisdiction (Spain v. Canada) - Fixing of time-limits for the filing of the initial written pleadings
Available in:
English French

Press release 1996/18

10 May 1996
Fisheries Jurisdiction (Spain v. Canada) - Jurisdictional phase: closure of the written proceedings
Available in:
English French

Press release 1997/17

5 December 1997
Fisheries Jurisdiction (Spain v. Canada) - Hearings to be held from 9 to 17 June 1998 on the issue of the jurisdiction of the Court
Available in:
English French

Press release 1998/20

28 May 1998
Fisheries Jurisdiction (Spain v. Canada) - Hearings to open on 9 June 1998 on the issue of the jurisdiction of the Court
Available in:
English French

Press release 1998/24

17 June 1998
Fisheries Jurisdiction (Spain v. Canada) - Conclusion of the hearings on the issue of the jurisdiction of the Court - The Court ready to consider its Judgment
Available in:
English French

Press release 1998/40

27 November 1998
Fisheries Jurisdiction (Spain v. Canada) - Court to announce on Friday 4 December 1998 whether it has jurisdiction to deal with the merits of the case
Available in:
English French

Press release 1998/41

4 December 1998
Fisheries Jurisdiction (Spain v. Canada) - Court declares that it has no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the dispute
Available in:
English French