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Fisheries Jurisdiction (United Kingdom v. Iceland)

International Court of Justice
1973 I.C.J. 3


Iceland (defendant) sought to extend its exclusive fisheries jurisdiction from twelve to fifty miles around its shores. The United Kingdom (UK) challenged this extension of jurisdiction and sought to submit the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ.) The UK relied upon an earlier treaty agreement between the parties where the UK agreed to recognize Iceland’s twelve-mile exclusive fisheries jurisdiction in exchange for Iceland’s agreement to submit all disputes over fisheries jurisdiction to the ICJ. Iceland argued that it was not bound by this agreement to submit all disputes to the ICJ, however, because of changing legal circumstances in international law. Iceland argued that the standard, default limit for exclusive fisheries jurisdiction for states was typically now twelve miles. This was not the case when Iceland first signed its agreement with the UK, however, and the agreement to a twelve-mile limit then constituted a compromise for Iceland. Due to changing trends in international law, Iceland argued that its previous agreement to the twelve-mile compromise in exchange for ICJ jurisdiction was now void for lack of consideration on the UK’s part.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning

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