Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Right of Hot Pursuit Definition:

The right of a state to chase and arrest a vessel which has committed an offense within its waters.

In his 1973 treatise on international law, Professor Melquiades Gamboa wrote:

"A state has the right to pursue into the high seas and arrest a foreign vessel which has committed an offense within its waters. The hot pursuit has to commence when the offending vessel is within the national waters, territorial sea or contiguous zone of the pursuing state and must come to an end when the vessel has entered part of its own country or of a third state. The pursuit must be uninterrupted and only necessary and reasonable force may be used to effect the seizure and bringing into port of the pursuit ship."

This definition essentially reiterates the definition provided in the High Seas Convention (1958), at 23(1):

"The hot pursuit of a foreign ship may be undertaken when the competent authorities of the coastal State have good reason to believe that the ship has violated the laws and regulations of that State.

"Such pursuit must be commenced when the foreign ship or one of its boats is within the internal waters or the territorial sea or the contiguous zone of the pursuing State, and may only be continued outside the territorial sea or the contiguous zone if the pursuit has not been interrupted.... If the foreign ship is within (the 12 mile) contiguous zone.... the pursuit may only be undertaken if there has been a violation of the rights for the protection of which the zone was established."

REFERENCES:

  • Convention on the High Seas, opened for signature April 29, 1958, entered into force Sept. 30, 1962
  • Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, opened for signature April 29, 1958, entered into force Sept. 10, 1964
  • Gamboa, Melquiades, A Dictionary of International Law and Diplomacy (Quezon City, Philippines: Phoenix Press, 1973), pages 139-140
  • R v Rumbaut, 127 CCC (3d) 138 (NBQB, 1998)
  • United States v Postal, 589 F. 2d 862 (1979)
  • The Ship “North” v. The King (1906), 37 S.C.R. 385

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