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Procedure before the ICJ: What is the Exact Date of the Closure of the Written Phase of Proceedings?

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Determining the precise date on which the written phase in litigation before the International Court of Justice is closed and the case is “ready for hearing” is important for a number of reasons, including the application of the rules concerning the submission of “further” or “new” documents, and the filing of requests for permission to intervene under Article 62 of the Statute. While the instruments governing the Court's functioning are silent on the matter, conventional wisdom appears to support the notion that such a date is defined with sufficient clarity, as the written proceedings are to be closed “automatically” on the date of the deposit of the last pleading. The aim of this Note is to show that actual practice reveals that in most cases it will be difficult, if not outright impossible, to determine beforehand what this last pleading is going to be. As a result, the written phase will only be closed at a later stage, when the parties and the Court are certain that there will be no further pleadings, a circumstance that appears to conflict with the notion of “automatic closure”.

Affiliations: 1: Visiting Scholar, American University, Washington, DC


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