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in The Italian Yearbook of International Law Online


1 As used in this article the word ' jurisdiction' refers exclusively to the exercise of judicial functions, including those of auxiliary organs like criminal police. Accordingly, the scope of this article excludes such forms of exercise of governmental power as routine inspections of ships' papers, enforcement of customs, sanitary and other regulations issued by port authorities. 2 It is beyond the scope of this article to give an exhaustive definition of ' merchant ships '. For our purposes it is sufficient to assume a definition such as to exclude ships

of war and ships which are employed in a public service according to the law of the flag state. 3 See, for an example of this tendency, QUADRI, Le navi private nel diritto interna- zionale, Milano, 1939, p. 105 ff.; GIULIANO, La navigazione aerea nel diritto interna- zionale, Milano, 1941, p. 194. 4 For an extensive survey of literature and practice see QUADRI, op. cit., p. 92 ff. O'CONNELL, International Law2, London, 1970, p. 612 ff. 5 Jurisdiction thus asserted has been qualified as territorial by those who charac-

terize the ship as a floating island ' assimilated to territory of the flag state (see DE MAR- TErrs as arbitrator in the case of the Costa Rica Packet between Great Britain and the Netherlands, Clunet, 1897, p. 624 f.), as functional by those who, although rejecting the fiction of territoriality, recognize that the ship, as a self-contained entity under the authority of its own captain and officers, represents a community of people linked to the authority of the flag state by the exercise of public functions on the part of the captain and officers themselves (for an early statement of this view, then generally followed in legal literature, see the dissenting opinions of Loder, J., and Finlay, J., in the Lotus case, Publications P.C.I.J., Series A, Judgment n. 9, pp. 39, 53. 6 For an accurate and exhaustive analysis of state practice, judicial precedents and domestic legislation relating to this group of states' acceptance of the French doctrine, see QUADRI, op. cit., p. 107 ff., and also JESsup, The Law of Territorial Waters and Maritime Jurisdiction, New York, 1927, p. 192 ff.; GIDEL, Le droit international public de la mer, II, Chateauroux, 1932, p. 166 ff.; CHARTERIS, « Territorial Waters: Jurisdiction over passing Vessels », B.Y.I.L., 1932 p. 125 ff. The lack of controversy as to acceptance on the part of these states of the jurisdictional limitation inherent in the French doc- trine makes it pointless to re-examine here the overwhelming mass of precedents already analyzed by the above authors. 7 For an early adhesion on the part of Italian Courts to the French doctrine see the case Utile (1885), in Clunet, 1888, p. 65, concerning the mutiny and killing of a crew member on board a French merchant ship in the port of Piombino. The Italian authorities disclaimed jurisdiction after protests on the part of France. The following decisions of Italian courts are in line with the French doctrine: Cass. Firenze, 24 November, 1860, cited in ESPERSON, Diritto diplomatico e giurisdizione internazionale marittima, Milano, 1874, T. 2, p. 186; Trib. Palermo, 16 april, 1886 (Godfrey case); Trib. Ancona, 1870 (Hygia case), FIORE, Trattato di diritto internaxionale pubblico3, To- rino, 1887, Vol. I, p. 349 f.; Trib. Venezia, 22 march 1894, FEDOZ'ZI, « La condition juridique des navires de commerce ». Hague Recueil 1925, p. 211; Cass., 21 november 1930 (Tarasco case), Annuario di diritto comparato e di studi legislativi, Vol. VIII, p. 3

and p. 38. Contra, App. Palermo, 4 July 1866 (Demetrius case), Fto�, Efjetti interna- zionali delle sentenze e degli atti in materia civile e penale, II, Pisa, 1877, p. 402; Cass. Roma, 22 April 1895 (Calzolari case), Rivista penale, T. XLII, p. 113; Trib. Co- lonia Eritrea, 23 September 1914 (Dohler case), Rivista, 1914, p. 615 ff. Recent cases however, definitely lean toward the French doctrine: Cass. 30 October 1969, Cassazione Penale Mass. Ann., 1971, n. 56; Trib. Napoli, 7 February 1974, published in another section of this volume. 8 For older literature see WHEATON, Revue de droit f rancais et etranger, 1845, p. 206 ff.; FIORE, Trattato, cit. p. 400 ff.; PERELS, Das internationale offentliche Seerecht der Gebenwart, Berlin, 1882, p. 75 ff.; DEN BEER PORTUGAEL, Het international maritime recht, Breda, 1888, p. 157; IMBART LATOUR, La mer territoriale, Paris, 1889, p. 306 ff. In more recent literature see QUADRI, Le navi private, cit., p. 93 ff.; CONFORTI, 11 regime giuridico dei mari, Napoli, 1957, P. 213 ff.> COLOMBOS, The International Law of the Sea, London, 1967, Chap. VIII. See also the draft proposed by the Institute de Droit International, at its 1898 session at the Hague, in Annuaire IDI, T. XIII, art. 6, p. 311 ff. 9 See Section 265 of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1854, Section 687 of the 1894 Act, repeated in Chapter 10 of 1906 Act, in JESSUP, The Law of Territorial Waters, cit., p. 172. Section 2 of the Territorial Jurisdiction Act provides: « An offence com- mitted by a person, whether he is or is not a subject of her Majestry, on the open sea within the territorial waters of her Majesty's dominions, is an offence within the jurisdiction of the Admiral, although it may have been committed on board or by means of a foreign ship, and the person who committed such offence may be arrested, tried, and punished accordingly ». For a recent reaffirmation of the Territorial Jurisdiction Act for the purpose of asserting English jurisdiction without qualification over the territorial sea, R. v. Kent Justice, 1967, 2 Q.B. 153. io For a comprehensive survey of judicial precedents and state practice following the British system, see CHARTERIS, « The Legal Position of Merchantmen in Foreign ports and National Waters », B.Y.I.L., 1920-21, p. 45 ff.; 62 ff.; FEDOZZI, « La condition juridique », cit., p. 205 ff.; BALDONI, 11 mare territoriale nel diritto internazio- nale comune, Padova, 1934, p. 153 ff.; 0' CONNELL, International law, cit., p. 612 ff. The historical background of the British position is illustrated by EnESOrr, « The Prerogative of the Crown to delimit Britain's Maritime Boundary ». The Ouai-terly Review, 1973, P. 364 ff.

11 Societe des Nations, Actes de la Conference pour la Codification du droit inter- national tenue a L'Haye du 13 mars au 12 avril 193o, Bases de discussion, T. II, Eaux territoriales, p. 78 ff. 12 See, particularly, the answers given LS· Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as Germany, Actes, cit., Bases de discussion, T. II, pp. ; 8 ff. and 97 ff. 's For the text of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone (hereafter referred to as the Geneva Convention), see U.1�'. Doc. A/Conf. i;,'L.52; 516 U.N.T.S., p. 205 ff. For analysis and comment of art. 19, see CONFORTI, « Le conven-

zioni di Ginevra sul ' diritto del mare ' », Bollettino delta biblioteca degli istituti giuridici, Università di Napoli, 1958, p. 247 ff., printed also in C.S. Vol. IX. 1� See, for this draft, Y.I.L.C. 1956, pp. 253, 274 f. 'S Contra the acceptance on the part of the United States of the principle of complete subjection to the jurisdiction of the coastal state, legal literature has often referred to the Wildenbus case (1887), 120 U.S. 104. This is wrong, since the case hinged upon the application of a consular convention between Belgium and the United States. From the point of view of general international law, it is remarkable that the judgment in question states as follows: « It is a part of the law of civilized nations that when a merchant vessel of one country enters the ports of another for the purpose of trade, it subjects itself to the law of the place to which it goes, unless by treaty or otherwise the two countries have come to some different understanding or agreement ». Reaffirming this principle, see Cunard SS. Co. v. Mellon (1923), 262 U.S. 100. 16 Emphasis supplied.

17 Y.I.L.C. cit., p. 275.

18 All draft articles proposed on this topic at Caracas concerned the case of passage through the territorial sea, leaving out the problem of criminal jurisdiction over a ship lying in a port. Great Britain reiterated her position by proposing an article where abstention from the exercise of local jurisdiction for internal acts was again based on the conditional should not ', as in the Geneva Convention (see Art. 22, 1., U.N,. Third Conference on the Law of the Sea, A/Conf. 62/C. 2/L.3). The same for Art. 11 of the draft proposed by Oman (A./Conf. 62/C.2/L.i6). Attempts to codify an imperative rule of abstention can be found, instead, in the draft proposed by a group of socialist states, Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Poland, and the German Democratic Republic (A/Conf. 62/C.2/L.26) and Fiji (A/Conf. 62/C.2/L. 19).

19 See the case concerning the Right of Passage, LC.J. Reports, 1960, p. 43 ff. 20 For a specific treatment of the subject, see: COEN-JONATHAN, « La coutume lo- cale », Annuaire franqais, 1960, p. 119 ff.; BARBERIS, « La coutume bilateral », Revista juridica de Buenos Aires, 1962, p. 313 ff.; FRANCIONI, « La consuetudine locale nel diritto internazionale », Rivista, 1971, p. 396 ff. 21 For a vivid description of the process of consolidation of the coastal state's powers over its territorial sea, see RAESTAD, La mer territorial, Paris, 1913, p. 62: « L'histoire nous apprend que c'est par une evolution lente et tardive que les Etats ont affirms leurs droit sur mer. Et c'est par une consolidation des droits ainsi acquis, consolidation qui est vieille d'un siecle seulement, que les Etats ont abouti a cette souverainete maritime dont ils se targuent aujourd'hui. Au point de vue historique, la mer territorial n'est pas sortie d'une occupation de la mer, mais des occupations successives de certains droits sur mer, reunis plus tard en un faisceau qu'on est convenu d'appeler souverainete ». See also ANZILOTTI, « Le navi mercantili estere e la tassa sul consumo dell'energia elettrica », Giur. It. 1908, I, Sez. II, c. 706. zz See the text of the Avts in IMBART LATOUR, op. cit., p. 296 f.; BALDONI, op. cit., p. 148 f.

� For adequate documentation on the subject, see the recent U.N. publication: National Legislation and Treaties Relating to the Territorial Sea, the Contiguous Zone, the Continental Shelf, the High Seas and to Fishing and Conservation of Livino Resources of the Sea, U.N. Legislative Series, ST/LEG/SER. B/15. 1970, and LAY, CIIUItcaILL and NORDQUIST (Eds.), Nezv Directions in the Law of the Sea, New York, 1973, part I. The recent Italian law extending the width of the territorial sea is reprinted in a different section of this volume. 24 For the text of the Convention, see, above, note 13. An exhaustive collection of documents on the subject is provided by the recent U.N. publication: National Legis- lation and Treaties Relating to the Territorial Sea, the Contiguous Zone, the Conti- nental Shelf, the High Seas and to Fishing and Conservation of Living Resources of the Sea. U.N. Legislative Series, ST/LEG./SER. B/15. 1970. zs In this respect, see the recent decision of the International Court of Justice in the Icelandic fisheries case, I.C.J. Reports, 1974, p. 12 ff. and, generally, for an ex- haustive picture of national claims to marine areas, LAY, CHURCHILL and NORDQUIST op. cit., part I; ODA, The [International Law of Ocean Developments. Basic Documents, Leiden, 1972. 26 The practice of this group of states is too well documented in other scholarly works to require individual examination here. See, among many others, LEE, « Jurisdiction over Foreign Merchant Ships in the Territorial Sea: an Analysis of the Geneva Convention on the Law of the Sea », A.J.LL., 1961, p. 82, and also QUADRI, op. cit., p. 95 ff.; and BALDONI, Op. cit., p. 151 if.

27 Cf. JESSUP, op. cit., p. 192: « As a matter of practice, there seems to be little actual divergence between the action of American and British courts on the one hand and French and Italian courts on the other. In all countries the court customarily de- clines jurisdiction when its interests are not affected, the difference being in the rationale of the decisions ». 28 See, for instance, the Draft Convention on Territorial waters, A.J.LL., 1929, Supplement Section p. 308: « The fact that the exercise of jurisdiction has commonly been withheld when the affair concerned only the internal economy of the vessel is not to be considered evidence of the recognition of a legal principle ». See also the note of the Secretary of State, Lansing, to the British ambassador, 19 May i9rq.: « This Government... has ..., on a number of occasions, made clear Its views to the effect that, by comity, matters of discipline and things done on board which affect only the

vessel or those belonging to her and do not involve the peace and dignity of the country or the tranquillity of the port should be left by the local Government to be dealt with by the authorities of the nation to which the vessel belongs, as the laws of that nation or the interests of its commerce may require ». Societe des Nations, Conference pour la modification, cit., p. 78 ff. (emphasis supplied). Also, the argument according to which the United States and Great Britain have adhered to the jurisdictional test of the French doctrine by signing a number of con- sular treaties and conventions allowing jurisdictional powers of the consular authorities of the flag state lacks consistency. Such conventions, in so far as they are at variance with the general practice of these states, represent special law departing from the general system, rather than being declaratory of an accepted principle of jus non scriptum. For a list of such conventions, see Lee, op. loc. cit., p. 82, note 20. za On the problem of coincidence of the sphere of criminal jurisdiction with the sphere of substantive criminal law, see the recent in-depth analysis of TREVES, La giurisdizione nel diritto penale internazionale, Padova, 1973, Chap. 1.

30 See, for instance, the case concerning the arrest of a sailor on board a British ship in a Russian port, R.G.D.I.P., Vol. 4, 1897, p. 207.

31 MOORE, International Law Digest, II, p. 274 f. 32 Id., p. 275.


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