On 9 September 1958 the UK government signed the Convention on the Continental Shelf, which had been concluded in Geneva on 29 April 1958 following a UN conference on the law of the sea at which three other conventions were concluded.2 On 11 May 1964 it ratified the Convention, which came into force on 10 June 1964.3 Meanwhile, on 15 April 1964, the Continental Shelf Act received the royal assent. Although the Act's long title indicates that it gives effect to certain provisions of the Convention on the High Seas,4 it does not expressly mention the Continental Shelf Convention. Yet the relationship between this Convention and the Act is more than a mere coincidence of time and title. It is the purpose of this article to investigate only one of the many important problems to which this relationship gave rise, namely how the basic concept of continental shelf rights as embodied in Article 2(1) of the Convention was incorporated into UK law. Other problems, such as the application to the shelf of UK civil and criminal law, will have to await discussion elsewhere.
* Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge; Lecturer in Law, University of Cambridge