The M/V “Louisa” case: Spain and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
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On 28 May 2013, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea delivered its judgment on The M/V “Louisa” Case between Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Kingdom of Spain. The Tribunal found that no dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) existed between the Parties at the time of the filing of the Application and that, therefore, it had no jurisdiction ratione materiae to entertain the case. Among other questions, the debates in the M/V “Louisa” Case have contributed to highlighting the disagreement among the members of the Tribunal regarding both the low threshold on prima facie jurisdiction and on exhaustion of prior exchange of views, as applied hitherto by the Tribunal. This is a matter of interest, because they are both prominent rules governing the jurisdiction of the ITLOS. More important, the jurisprudence in the M/V “Louisa” Case is now relied by the ITLOS as evidenced in the M/V “Virginia G” Case, while completed with more explicit pronunciations about the burden and standard of proof on the existence of and abuse of rights under Article 300, necessarily in connection with the exercise of the rights, jurisdiction and freedoms recognized by the UNCLOS.
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