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Ghanaian Maritime Boundary Dispute - PI law and a little IP

Saturday, September 23, 2017


Ghana v. Cote d' Ivoire

Members of 8 New Square have a tradition of practising in areas outside IP. In one notable example, our former head of chambers Michael Fysh QC, a leading expert on rights to foreshore, acted in one of the longest and most important cases on fishing licences. 

That tradition has been continued recently with Daniel Alexander QC's involvement over the past 3 years in a maritime boundary dispute at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. The case was prompted by one of the largest oil and gas discoveries in the Gulf of Guinea to which a neighbouring state laid claim. Daniel acted for the Republic of Ghana, as part of a team led by the Attorney-General of Ghana, Prof. Philippe Sands QC from Matrix Chambers and Paul Reichler of Foley Hoag in Wahsington DC, against Cote d'Ivoire. Daniel had studied UNCLOS before it came into force and had previously worked on a JOA re-determiation challenge in the Commercial Court with John Baldwin QC as well as an earlier ITLOS case concerning immunity to arrest. 

A Special Chamber of ITLOS was convened to resolve the dispute which included on the panel the President of the International Court of Justice and the former President of ITLOS. The Special Chamber, sitting in Hamburg at a hearing conducted in English and French on both sides, dismissed Cote d'Ivoire's claims against Ghana and established a boundary in accordance with Ghana's submissions. The complex dispute raised issues of approach to equidistance methodology in maritime boundary determination, oil-field concession practice, state liability for alleged international wrongs with respect to undetermined boundaries and the approach to interim remedies in pubic international law. For those interested in PI as well as IP law, the judgments on the merits and on interim measures are available here https://www.itlos.org/cases/list-of-cases/case-no-23/. For those more interested in IP, the interim measures ruling relates, among other things, to the exclusive right to obtain information from maritime territory under UNCLOS.