Proceedings before the Tribunal

(a) Institution of proceedings and representation of parties

(i) Application or special agreement

Proceedings before the Tribunal are instituted by the submission of an application or by notification of a special agreement. Any application or special agreement is to be filed with the Registry in one (or both) of the official languages of the Tribunal. If it is filed in another language, it has to be accompanied by a translation into one of the official languages. When proceedings are instituted on the basis of an agreement other than the Convention, a certified copy of the agreement must accompany the application or notification (Rules, article 57, paragraph 1).

When proceedings are instituted by means of an application, the original of the application has to be signed by the agent of the party concerned or by the diplomatic representative of that party in Germany or by some other duly authorized person. Except when the application is signed by a diplomatic representative, the signature must be authenticated by the diplomatic representative or by the competent governmental authority (Rules, article 54, paragraph 3).

The notification of a special agreement may be effected by the parties jointly or by one or more of them (Rules, article 55, paragraph 1). An original or certified copy of the special agreement must accompany the notification (Rules, article 55, paragraph 2).

(ii) Transmission of documents

When the proceedings are instituted by means of an application, the Registrar transmits forthwith to the respondent a certified copy thereof (Rules, article 54, paragraph 4). In the case of the notification of a special agreement by one or more of the parties, the Registrar transmits forthwith a certified copy thereof to any other party to the dispute (Rules, article 55, paragraph 1).

After the proceedings have been instituted, the application or the special agreement is notified by the Registrar to all concerned and to all States Parties to the Convention (Statute, article 24, paragraphs 2 and 3).

(iii) Representation of the parties

The party which institutes proceedings informs the Tribunal at the same time of the name and address of its agent. The other party informs the Tribunal of the name and address of its agent as soon as possible thereafter (Rules, article 56, paragraphs 2 and 3).

Except in the case where the party against which the application is made has not yet expressed its consent to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, all steps on behalf of the parties after proceedings have been instituted are taken by agents. The parties may also appoint a co-agent or a deputy agent and they may have the assistance of counsel, advocates or advisers.

(iv) Consultations with the parties

The President ascertains the views of the parties with regard to questions of procedure. For this purpose, he may summon the agents to meet him or use other appropriate means of communication such as telephone, facsimile, video-conference, etc. (Rules, article 45).

(v) Additional information concerning the competence of international organizations

An international organization which is a party to a dispute may be requested by the Tribunal, at the request of any other party or proprio motu, to provide information as to which, as between the organization and its member States, has competence in respect of any specific question which has arisen. The proceedings may be suspended until such information is received (Rules, article 57, paragraph 2).

(b) Written proceedings

(i) Filing of pleadings and formal requirements

The written proceedings consist of the communication of pleadings to the Tribunal and to the parties. The pleadings consist of a memorial and a counter-memorial, and, if the Tribunal so authorizes, a reply and a rejoinder, as well as all documents in support (Rules, articles 44, paragraph 2, 60 and 61, paragraph 3).

The original of each pleading is signed by the agent, who supplies the Registry with the documents required under articles 63 to 65 of the Rules and paragraph 9 of the Guidelines. Every pleading must be dated. When a pleading has to be filed by a certain date, the date of its receipt in the Registry is regarded by the Tribunal as the material date (Rules, article 65, paragraphs 1 and 2).

If a pleading does not satisfy the formal requirements of the Rules, the Registrar will return it to the party concerned for rectification. After rectification, the pleading is properly filed and the Registrar endorses it on the date of its receipt in the Registry (Guidelines, paragraphs 10 and 11).

Upon receipt of a pleading, a certified copy of the pleading and any document annexed thereto is communicated by the Registrar to the other party (Rules, article 66).

(ii) Information to the public

Unless otherwise decided by the Tribunal, copies of the pleadings are to be made available upon request to States and other entities entitled to appear before the Tribunal, as soon as possible after their filing (Rules, article 67, paragraphs 1 and 3).

Unless otherwise decided by the Tribunal, copies of the pleadings may be obtained by the public on the opening of the oral proceedings (Rules, article 67, paragraphs 2 and 3).

(c) Initial deliberations

Prior to the opening of the oral proceedings, the Tribunal meets in order to exchange views concerning the case (Rules, article 68; Resolution, article 3).

(d) Oral proceedings

(i) Hearings

Except in cases concerning prompt release of vessels and crews and provisional measures, the date for the opening of the oral proceedings falls within a period of six months from the closure of the written proceedings, unless the Tribunal decides otherwise (Rules, article 69).

The oral proceedings consist of the hearing by the Tribunal of agents, counsel, advocates, witnesses and experts (Rules, article 44, paragraph 3).

The hearings are public, unless the Tribunal decides otherwise or the parties request that the public be not admitted (Statute, article 26, paragraph 2; Rules, article 74).

Prior to the hearings, each party is requested to submit a brief outline of the issues that still divide the parties and of the arguments it wishes to make in its oral statement, and a list of authorities upon which it intends to rely in its oral statement (Guidelines, paragraph 14).

(ii) Witnesses, experts and evidence

Each party must communicate to the Registrar, in sufficient time before the opening of the oral proceedings, the information referred to in article 72 of the Rules, regarding evidence it intends to produce.

During the hearings, the parties may call any witnesses or experts appearing on the list communicated to the Tribunal. Any other witness or expert may only be called if the other party raises no objection or if the Tribunal so authorizes in accordance with article 78, paragraph 1, of the Rules.

(iii) Submission of new documents by the parties

After the closure of the written proceedings, no further documents may be submitted to the Tribunal by a party except with the consent of the other party or the authorization of the Tribunal in accordance with article 71 of the Rules.

(iv) Questions addressed to the parties and requests for information

Prior to or during the hearing, the Tribunal may indicate any points which it would like the parties specially to address or on which it considers that there has been sufficient argument. Similarly, the President or other judge may put questions to agents, counsel and advocates during the hearing (Rules, article 76).

At any time prior to the closure of the oral proceedings, the Tribunal may request an intergovernmental organization to furnish information relevant to a case before it. When a case before the Tribunal concerns the interpretation of the constituent instrument of an intergovernmental organization, the organization is to be notified and may submit written observations within a time-limit fixed by the Tribunal, or by the President if the Tribunal is not sitting (Rules, article 84).

(v) Interpretation and verbatim record

According to article 85 of the Rules, speeches and statements made in one of the official languages of the Tribunal are to be interpreted into the other. When a language other than an official language is used, the party concerned shall make arrangements for interpretation into one of the official languages. In such a case, arrangements for the verification of the interpretation shall be made by the Registrar at the expense of that party.

A verbatim record of every hearing is drawn up by the Registrar. Copies of the transcript of the verbatim record are circulated to the judges and to the parties, who may request corrections of errors in the transcript relating to their statements. The same applies to statements made by witnesses and experts (Rules, article 86).

(vi) Display of charts, maps and other facilities

Visual demonstration facilities for the display of any maps, charts, diagrams, illustrations of texts, etc., which a party intends to exhibit during the oral proceedings will, at the request of that party, be provided by the Registrar upon payment of fees, if any, fixed for that purpose (Guidelines, paragraph 18).

(vii) Information to the public

The Registrar issues press releases giving all necessary information as to the dates of the hearings. Admission cards are issued to members of the diplomatic or consular corps and to representatives of the press and, upon request, to any other person. Photography and filming in the courtroom during the oral proceedings are subject to authorization.

Copies of the uncorrected verbatim records of each hearing are made available to the public.

(viii) Final submissions and closure of oral proceedings

At the conclusion of the last statement made by a party, its agent reads the final submissions of that party. A copy of the written text of these submissions, signed by the agent, is communicated to the Tribunal and to the other party (Rules, article 75, paragraph 2).

After the presentation of the case is completed, the President declares the oral proceedings closed. The agents remain at the disposal of the Tribunal (Rules, article 88).

(e) Joinder of proceedings

The Tribunal may direct that the proceedings in two or more cases be joined (Rules, article 47).

(f) Default

When one of the parties does not appear before the Tribunal or fails to defend its case, the other party may request the Tribunal to continue the proceedings and make its decision. Before making its decision, the Tribunal must satisfy itself not only that it has jurisdiction over the dispute, but also that the claim is well founded in fact and law (Statute, article 28).

(g) Deliberations

After the closure of the oral proceedings, the Tribunal withdraws to deliberate (Rules, article 88, paragraph 2). The deliberations are and remain confidential (Rules, article 42, paragraph 1). The Resolution contains detailed provisions on the different steps followed during the deliberations of the Tribunal.

(h) Judgment

(i) Reading of the judgment

The judgment is read at a public sitting. The parties are notified of the date of the public sitting (Rules, article 124).

(ii) Finality and binding force

The judgment of the Tribunal is final. It is binding on the parties to the dispute on the day of its reading (Statute, article 33, paragraphs 1 and 2; Rules, article 124).

(iii) Official languages and translation

The judgment is prepared in both official languages; it contains a statement as to which text is authoritative (Rules, article 125, paragraph 1(m)).

When an official language of the United Nations other than one of the official languages of the Tribunal is chosen by the parties, article 64 of the Rules allows for any party to request the translation of the decision of the Tribunal into that official language of the United Nations. The translation is made at no cost to the parties.

(iv) Separate or dissenting opinions and declarations

The judgment indicates the number and names of the judges constituting the majority and those constituting the minority, on each operative provision (Rules, article 125, paragraph 1(l)). Any judge may attach a separate or dissenting opinion to the judgment. A judge may record concurrence or dissent without stating reasons in the form of a declaration (Rules, article 125, paragraph 2).

(v) Copies of the judgment

One copy of the judgment is signed by the President and the Registrar, then sealed and placed in the archives of the Tribunal. Copies are handed to each party. Others are sent to States Parties, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority and, in a case submitted under an agreement other than the Convention, parties to such agreement (Rules, article 125, paragraph 3).

Copies of the judgment are available to the public upon request.

(i) Costs

Each party bears its own costs unless otherwise decided by the Tribunal (Statute, article 34).