How to submit a case

According to article 287 of the Convention, a State, when signing, ratifying or acceding to the Convention or at any time thereafter, is free to accept the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for the settlement of disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention by means of a written declaration to be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Tribunal has compulsory jurisdiction to deal with all disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention when the parties to the dispute have accepted the Tribunal as the same procedure for the settlement of the dispute by means of a declaration made under article 287 of the Convention. The dispute may be submitted to the Tribunal at the request of either party by way of unilateral application.

A model form for making a declaration in favour of the Tribunal may be found here.

The Tribunal may have jurisdiction over a dispute submitted on the basis of a special agreement concluded between the parties. The parties may also decide, by agreement, to transfer to the Tribunal a dispute that has been instituted before an arbitral tribunal established under article 287.

A model form for a special agreement to submit a dispute to the Tribunal may be found here.

The jurisdiction of the Tribunal may also be based on jurisdictional clauses inserted in international agreements conferring jurisdiction on the Tribunal or a special chamber of the Tribunal formed pursuant to article 15, paragraph 2, of the Statute, with respect to any dispute arising between the parties as to the interpretation or application of that agreement.

Model jurisdictional clauses may be found here.

Even in the absence of declarations made under article 287 of the Convention, the Tribunal has compulsory jurisdiction in two instances where the parties to a dispute have failed to agree, within a given period of time, to submit their dispute to another court or tribunal. These instances are requests for the prescription of provisional measures pending the constitution of an arbitral tribunal (article 290, paragraph 5, of the Convention) and requests for the prompt release of vessels and crews (article 292 of the Convention). These cases may be instituted by unilateral application from any State Party to the Convention. For such proceedings, the Tribunal renders its decision without delay, within a period of approximately one month. 

The Seabed Disputes Chamber has compulsory and generally exclusive jurisdiction pursuant to article 187 of the Convention over disputes concerning activities in the Area.