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Diversion of Water from the Meuse (Netherlands v. Belgium)

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. Permanent Court of Int’l Justice, P.C.I.J. (ser. A/B) No. 70. 76-78

Brief Fact Summary.

The building of certain canals was the ground upon which the Netherlands (P) asserted that Belgium (D) had violated an agreement.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Principles of equity forms part of International law.


The construction of certain canals by Belgium (D) did not go down well with the Netherlands (P) because the construction could alter the water level of the Meuse River in violation of an earlier agreement. Belgium (D) counterclaimed on the grounds of the construction of a lock by Netherlands (P) at an earlier date. The claims of both countries were rejected by the Court.


Do principles of equity form a part of international law?


(Hudson, J) Yes. The principles of equity form a part of international law. Under Article 38 and independently of that statute, this Court has some freedom to consider principles of equity. The maxim “He who seeks equity must do equity” is derived from Anglo-American law.


The Court also referred to Roman law. In Roman law, a similar principle made the obligations of a vendor and a vendee concurrent. Neither could compel the other to perform unless he had done, or tendered his own

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