HC Deb 07 November 1921 vol 148 cc33-4
44. Sir J. D. REES

asked the Lord President of the Council whether the International Court of Justice will have jurisdiction in cases of maritime international law; and whether in that event Great Britain will be under the necessity of accepting the findings of a body of international jurists upon questions such as those with which the Declaration of London proposed to deal?


The jurisdiction of the Permanent Court of International Justice will extend to all cases of maritime international law which are submitted to it by the parties to the dispute. Such submission to the court may be made either by a special agreement between the parties relating to the particular dispute in question or as the result of a general agreement for the reference of such questions to the court. Machinery for the reference of all disputes to the court is contained in the Optional Clause which is attached to the Protocol for bringing the Statute of the Permanent Court into existence, and States which have signed that Optional Clause will be bound to submit to the Permanent Court their disputes with other States relating to maritime international law. The United Kingdom has not signed the Optional Clause, and, therefore, so far as United Kingdom is concerned, no case relating to mari- time international law will come before the Permanent Court of International Justice unless the Government agree so to refer it. If at any time the Government should agree to refer any particular dispute to the court, it will, of course, be necessary to accept the decision which is rendered.

Sir J. D. REES

Is the substance of that answer that the Foreign Office will not agree to submit the vital questions of maritime power to this tribunal?


I am afraid that the United Kingdom, not having signed the Optional Clause, no case will be submitted to the international court unless the Government of the day so refer it.