Minquiers and Ecrehos (France/United Kingdom)
OVERVIEW OF THE CASE
The Minquiers and Ecrehos are two groups of islets situated between the British island of Jersey and the coast of France. Under a Special Agreement between France and the United Kingdom, the Court was asked to determine which of the Parties had produced the more convincing proof of title to these groups of islets. After the conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy, in 1066, the islands had formed part of the Union between England and Normandy which lasted until 1204, when Philip Augustus of France conquered Normandy but failed to occupy the islands. The United Kingdom submitted that the islands then remained united with England and that this situation was placed on a legal basis by subsequent treaties between the two countries. France contended that the Minquiers and Ecrehos were held by France after 1204, and referred to the same medieval treaties as those relied on by the United Kingdom. In its Judgment of 17 November 1953, the Court considered that none of those treaties stated specifically which islands were held by the King of England or by the King of France. Moreover, what was of decisive importance was not indirect presumptions based on matters in the Middle Ages, but direct evidence of possession and the actual exercise of sovereignty. After considering this evidence, the Court arrived at the conclusion that the sovereignty over the Minquiers and Ecrehos belonged to the United Kingdom.
This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.