Author: Richa Bohra, 2nd Year, BBA LL.B(H), Amity Law School, Amity University Rajasthan.

The article has been written by the author while pursuing the internship programme with us.


The dispute settlement system of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, whereas mandatory, is versatile, open and permits for artistic solutions. A transparent example is that the Seabed Disputes Chamber (SDC), that was originally planned as an associate degree freelance assembly and was endowed with wide ability and innovations compared with alternative international jurisdictions.

The Seabed Disputes Chamber has outlined itself as a separate judicial body among the assembly entrusted, through its consultative and contentious jurisdiction, with the exclusive operate of deciphering half xi of the Convention and therefore the relevant annexes and laws that are the legal basis for the organization and management of activities within the space.

The Convention has established an institutional nexus among the general system of the Tribunal which is provided for in Part XV of the Convention and the Chamber set up in section 5 of that Part. This gives place to a special judicial system within the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. The Chamber is the organ specifically entrusted with the general functions of the settlement of disputes and of giving advisory opinions, in conformity with section 5 of Part XI. The manner in which the Chamber shall exercise its jurisdiction is governed by Part XV and Annex VI of the Convention. The Convention for the dispute settlement consists not only of chambers with special and exclusive competence but also special tribunals with jurisdiction over disputes referred under Article 187[1].

The Seabed Disputes Chamber faces the challenge to exercise its responsibility to confirm that the regime for deep seabed mining—as planned within the Convention and therefore the 1994 Agreement—is properly taken and applied.


The Sea Bed Disputes Chamber is established in accordance with part XI, section 5, of the Convention and Article XIV of the Statute. The Chamber has its jurisdiction in disputes with regard to activities within the International sea bed space.

The Chamber consists of eleven judges. An assemblage of seven members is needed to represent the Chamber. Members of the Chamber are hand-picked by the members of the court every 3 years and will be hand-picked for a second term. The choice method ensures the illustration of the principal legal systems of the planet and just geographical distribution. The Chamber elects its President from among its members (Statute, article 35) The present chamber headed by President Judge Hoffmann shall end on September 30, 2020. It includes the following members as part of its quorum: –

  • Judge Cot
  • Judge Lucky
  • Judge Pawlak
  • Judge Yanai
  • Judge Kateka
  • Judge Gao
  • Judge Kelly
  • Judge Heidar
  • Judge Bouguetaia
  • Judge Kulyk[2]

Provision of Section 186 of part XV of Annexure VI would be governing the jurisdiction which has to be exercised and its establishment also.


Article 187[3] deals regarding the jurisdiction of the Seabed Disputes Chamber. It will be the jurisdiction underneath this part and annexure regarding activities having a dispute in relation to the areas falling inside the subsequent categories:

  • Dispute with respect to the interpretation or application of this part.
  •  It deals with the issue when the authority concerned omits the act or does an act which is not required to be done.
  • It also has jurisdiction when the authority is exceeding the power or is misusing the power of jurisdiction against the state.
  • A dispute regarding the contract parties regarding the plan of work or one of the parties omitting an act.
  • It was the jurisdiction on all the matters which have been specified.


The sea bottom Disputes Chamber shall not have any jurisdiction with respect to the exercise by the Authority of its discretionary powers in accordance with this Part; in no case shall it substitute its discretion for that of the Authority. Without prejudice to article 191, in effort its jurisdiction consistent to article 187, the sea bottom Disputes Chamber shall not pronounce itself on the question whether or not any rules, rules and procedures of the Authority area unit are in conformity with this Convention, nor declare invalid any such rules, regulations and procedures.[4] Its jurisdiction throughout this regard shall be confined to deciding claims, that the applying of any rules, rules and procedures of the Authority in individual cases would be in conflict with the contractual obligations of the parties to the dispute or their obligations beneath this Convention, claims relating to way more than jurisdiction or misuse of power, and to claims for damages to be paid or completely different remedy to run to the party concerned for the failure of the alternative party to befits its legal instrument obligations or its obligations beneath this Convention.


If there is a dispute where the seabed disputes chamber can exercise the jurisdiction it may ask them to form an ad hoc chamber, which would consist of 3 members with the approval of the seabed disputes chamber as well as the respective parties. Members of the ad hoc chamber may not be in the service of, or nationals of, any of the parties (Convention, articles 187 and 188; Statute, article 36). So far it has been made between Chile and the European Community


 Summary Procedure of Chamber:

As per the article XV, paragraphs three and four, of the Statute, the Chamber of outline Procedure might hear and verify a case by outline procedure if the parties therefore request. Additionally, the Chamber might dictate probationary measures if the assembly isn’t in session or enough range of members isn’t on the market to represent a gathering. The chamber is composed of five members and two more as alternatives. The President and the Vice-President of the Tribunal are members ex officio of the Chamber; the President of the Tribunal serves as President of the Chamber.

Fisheries Dispute Chamber:

It was established on February 14, 1997, under the article 15 para 1 to deal issues with respect to marine living environment’s safeguard and shielding the marine living resources. It consists of nine members. If the member falls less than seven, new members should be brought in by the Tribunal.

Marine Environment Dispute:

It has been established as per the accordance with article 15 under paragraph 1, which is there for the disputes regarding prolongation and conservation of the marine environment. The composition of the same must be of nine members. The president of a quorum is Judge Pawlak.


The Seabed Disputes Chamber shall give advisory opinions at the request of the Assembly or the Council on legal questions arising within the scope of their activities. Such opinions shall be given as a matter of urgency[5]. This article indicates that there is always obligation on the part of the Sea Bed Dispute Chamber to treat the matters as a matter of urgency whenever the request is made by the Assembly to have an advisory opinion with regard to legal questions. The advisory jurisdiction is connected with the activities of the Assembly and also the Council, the two principal organs of the Authority. The Authority is that the alinement established by the Convention so as to “organize and management activities within the Area” (article 157, paragraph one, of the Convention and section one, paragraph one, of the Annex to the 1994 Agreement with reference to the Implementation of part XI of the international organisation Convention on the Law of the ocean (hereinafter “the 1994 Agreement”)). So as to exercise its functions properly in accordance with the Convention, the Authority could need the help of Associate in Nursing freelance and impartial judicial body. This is often the underlying reason for the informatory jurisdiction of the Chamber. Within the exercise of that jurisdiction, the Chamber 15 is part of the system during which the Authority’s organs operate, however its task at intervals that system is to act as Associate in Nursing freelance and impartial body. In line with article 159, paragraph ten, and article 191 of the UN Convention on Law of the Sea the informatory operation of the Chamber issues legal queries submitted by the Assembly and by the Council. informatory opinions requested underneath article 159, paragraph ten, of the Convention serve to help the Assembly throughout its decision-making method. The Chamber’s informatory jurisdiction underneath article 191 of the Convention issues “legal queries arising at intervals the scope” of the activities of either the Assembly or the Council. As provided under article 187 of the UN Convention on Law of the Sea, the Chamber conjointly has contentious jurisdiction to settle totally different classes of disputes brought up in this article with relevance activities within the space. The functions of the Chamber kicked off partly XI of the Convention, area unit relevant for the nice governance of the world. The Secretary-General created this time at the hearing: “The Chamber contains a high responsibility to make sure that the provisions of half XI of the Convention and also the 1994 Agreement area unit enforced properly and also the regime for deep ocean floor mining as a full is correctly taken and applied.”


[1] AO Adede, The System for Settlement of Disputes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers Dordrecht 1987).


[3] The Seabed Disputes Chamber shall have jurisdiction under this Part and the Annexes relating thereto in disputes with respect to activities in the Area falling within the following categories:
(a) disputes between States Parties concerning the interpretation or application of this Part and the Annexes relating thereto;
(b) disputes between a State Party and the Authority concerning:
(i) acts or omissions of the Authority or of a State Party alleged to be in violation of this Part or the Annexes relating thereto or of rules, regulations and procedures of the Authority adopted in accordance therewith; or
(ii) acts of the Authority alleged to be in excess of jurisdiction or a misuse of power;
(c) disputes between parties to a contract, being States Parties, the Authority or the Enterprise, state enterprises and natural or juridical persons referred to in article 153, paragraph 2(b), concerning:
(i) the interpretation or application of a relevant contract or a plan of work; or
(ii) acts or omissions of a party to the contract relating to activities in the Area and directed to the other party or directly affecting its legitimate interests;
(d) disputes between the Authority and a prospective contractor who has been sponsored by a State as provided in article 153, paragraph 2(b), and has duly fulfilled the conditions referred to in Annex III, article 4, paragraph 6, and article 13, paragraph 2, concerning the refusal of a contract or a legal issue arising in the negotiation of the contract;
(e) disputes between the Authority and a State Party, a state enterprise or a natural or juridical person sponsored by a State Party as provided for in article 153, paragraph 2(b), where it is alleged that the Authority has incurred liability as provided in Annex III, article 22;
(f) any other disputes for which the jurisdiction of the Chamber is specifically provided in this Convention.

[4] Article 189 Limitation on jurisdiction with regard to decisions of the Authority., UN Convention on the laws of the sea.

[5] Article 191 UN Convention on Law of the Sea.

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