The Elgar Companion to the International Court of Justice

The Elgar Companion to the International Court of Justice

Elgar Companions to International Courts and Tribunals series

Robert Kolb

The first in a series of Companions that offer broad coverage of a range of international courts and tribunals, The Elgar Companion to the International Court of Justice is a one-stop reference for those wishing to understand this highly significant and successful court.

Chapter 12: Procedure and process

Robert Kolb

Subjects: law - academic, public international law, politics and public policy, international politics


How is the Court seized of a dispute? Seizing the Court is the starting point of the procedure; a valid seizing will lead to the case being entered on the list of pending cases at the ICJ. The question of seizing is concerned only with the way in which a case may be brought before the Court; the question of the Court’s jurisdiction to hear a case of which it has been seized is a separate matter. It will, if necessary, be tested at the preliminary objections phase. It would be wrong to argue that when the Court is duly seized of a case it thus automatically has jurisdiction to hear it. There are other matters to be noted here. First, article 40 of the Statute provides: ‘Cases are brought before the Court, as the case may be, either by the notification of the special agreement or by a written application addressed to the Registrar.’ The Court can thus be seized of a case through either the joint or unilateral notification of a special agreement establishing its jurisdiction. It can also be seized by a unilateral application in two sets of circumstances: (i) a compulsory pre-existing jurisdictional agreement; or (ii) an express or implied request to the respondent to agree to the Court’s jurisdiction on the basis of the forum prorogatum.

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