Tactical Admissions in International Litigation

Event date
26 November 2021
Event time
12:45 - 14:00
Oxford week
MT 7
Online via Zoom
Stefan Talmon, Professor of Public Law, Public International Law and European Union Law

*Please note that this event takes place on Friday, 26th of November, rather than on the usual day for PILDG events (Thursdays).*

If you wish to participate in this (remote) seminar, RSVP is necessary. Please complete the form before noon Wednesday 24 November (please note that if you register after noon, a link cannot be sent to you).  Prior to the Thursday seminar, you will be sent a zoom link to join. 

Sovereignty over Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal) is disputed between China and the Philippines. Prior to the South China Sea Arbitration, the Philippines constantly and consistently claimed territorial sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal. During the arbitral proceedings, however, the Philippines admitted that “Scarborough Shoal is – quod non, and only for the purpose of these proceedings – under Chinese sovereignty”. As the Arbitral Tribunal was not competent to rule on questions of territorial sovereignty it was only on the basis of this “tactical admission” that the Tribunal could rule on the Philippine’s Submission No. 10 and declare that “China has unlawfully prevented Philippine fishermen from pursuing their livelihoods by interfering with traditional fishing activities at Scarborough Shoal”.

This paper aims to establish the difference between tactical admission and estoppel by conduct and will examine what legal consequences, if any, tactical admissions by a party in legal proceedings may have on other proceedings or diplomatic negotiations between the parties to the proceedings and between the parties and third States.

Stefan Talmon, DPhil LLM MA is Professor of Public Law, Public International Law and European Union Law, and Director of the Institute of Public International Law at the University of Bonn. He is also a Supernumerary Fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford. Prior to taking up the chair at Bonn in October 2011 he was Professor of Public International Law at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford. In the academic year 2020-2021, he was also a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. He is a generalist with wide-ranging interests in international law. He is the editor of the blog and CUP book series GPIL – German Practice in International Law (https://gpil.jura.uni-bonn.de/). Professor Talmon practices as a Barrister from Twenty Essex, London, and frequently advises States and transnational corporations on questions of public international law. He has appeared as counsel and expert before the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights and international arbitral tribunals  as well as domestic courts in England, Germany and the United States of America. In 2019-2020, he sat as an arbitrator in a confidential PCA arbitration concerning international terrorism.


Due to the current public health emergency, the PIL Discussion Group series for 2021-2022 for Michaelmas Term will be held online. RSVP is necessary for each event and a link to the Form will be available each week. The link will be provided in each event listed below and prior to the seminar, you will be sent a link to join the discussion. Please note that if you complete the form after the deadline of noon each Wednesday, you will not receive the link to join.

The Public International Law Discussion Group at the University of Oxford is a key focal point for PIL@Oxford and hosts a weekly speaker event. Topics involve contemporary and challenging issues in international law. Speakers include distinguished international law practitioners, academics, and legal advisers from around the world.

PIL Discussion Group Convenor: Natasha Holcroft-Emmess

The discussion group's meetings are part of the programme of the British Branch of the International Law Association and are supported by the Law Faculty and Oxford University Press. 

The speaker will commence at 12:45 and speak for about forty minutes, allowing about twenty five minutes for questions and discussion. The meeting should conclude before 2:00.

Practitioners, academics and students from within and outside the University of Oxford are all welcome.

Found within

Public International Law