Medvedyev And Others v France: ECHR 29 Mar 2010

(Grand Chamber) A Cambodian vessel, The Winner, trafficked drugs on the high seas (Cape Verde). It was detected and boarded by the French authorities, detaining the crew on board and took them on the vessel to France for trial. France was, but Cambodia was not, party to the relevant international drug trafficking conventions, which did not in the circumstances authorise the arrest by France of the Cambodian vessel. Nevertheless, Cambodia had given France specific ad hoc authorisation ‘to intercept, inspect and take legal action against the ship’. The crew complained that they were not within the jurisdiction of the French Courts.
Held: (Majority) They were within the jurisdiction of France for the purposes of article 1, France ‘having exercised full and exclusive control over the Winner and its crew, at least de facto, from the time of its interception, in a continuous and uninterrupted manner until they were tried in France (contrast Bankovic, cited above)’. As to Bankovic, the Court noted that it was ‘only in exceptional cases that acts of the Contracting States performed, or producing effects, outside their territories can constitute an exercise of jurisdiction by them for the purposes of article 1 . . this excluded situations, however, where – as in the Bankovic case – what was at issue was an instantaneous extraterritorial act, as the provisions of article 1 did not admit of a ’cause-and-effect’ notion of ‘jurisdiction’.’
The detention of the crew was nevertheless unjustified. Although international as well as domestic law was capable of shaping a ‘procedure prescribed by law’ within article 5.1, Cambodia’s ad hoc authorisation did not meet the requirements under article 5.1 of ‘clearly defined’ and ‘foreseeable’ law. The Court allowed the possibility of a purely factual (albeit unlawfully exercised) concept of jurisdiction under article 1. Dissenting, seven judges, said that article 1 applied: ‘the Winner – with the agreement of the flag state – was undeniably within the jurisdiction of France for the purposes of article 1.’. That state B may authorise state A to exercise jurisdiction which would otherwise belong to state B for the purposes of article 1 was consistent with the principles in Bankovic.
The court awarded 5,000 Euros in damages.

(2010) 51 EHRR 39, 3394/03, [2010] ECHR 384
European Convention on Human Rights 1 5.1
Human Rights
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Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.406700