The Dogger Bank Case (The International Commission of Inquiry between Great Britain and Russia arising out of the North Sea Incident)


In October 1904, during the Russo-Japanese war, the Admiral of the Russian Baltic fleet, then coming off the coast of Norway, received rumors from several sources of the presence of Japanese torpedo boats in the vicinity, and on this account the fleet set sail for the Far East twenty-four hours ahead of schedule. As the last division of the fleet, in immediate charge of the Admiral, was passing through the North Sea in the early hours of the morning of October 9, 1904, it came upon what afterwards proved to be an English fishing fleet from Hull, England. The Russians, under a misapprehension that the English vessels were the Japanese torpedo boats, opened fire, with the result that one fishing boat was sunk and others damaged, while two fishermen were killed and six injured.

In order to prevent serious results from this incident, France suggested resort to an international commission of inquiry, as provided for in the Convention for the pacific settlement of international disputes, adopted by the Hague Conference of 1899. The suggestion was accepted by Great Britain and Russia, and an agreement was signed on November 25, 1904 which invested a commission composed of admirals from the British, Russian, United States, French and Austrian navies with authority to find the facts in dispute and to fix responsibility.

Questions Submitted to the Commission

  1. To elucidate by means of an impartial and conscientious investigation the questions of fact connected with the incident that occurred in the North Sea on the night of October 8-9, 1904.
  2. To determine the responsibility and the degree of blame attaching to the two States involved, or, if applicable, to subjects of other States.

Case information

Name(s) of Claimant(s) The Kingdom of Great Britain (State)
Name(s) of Respondent(s) Russia (State)
Names of Parties -
Case number 1904-02
Administering institution Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)
Case status Concluded
Type of case Inter-state other
Subject matter or economic sector - Other -
Procedural rules 1899 Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes
Treaty or contract under which proceedings were commenced

Multilateral treaty
1899 Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes

Language of Proceeding French
Seat of Arbitration (by Country) - N/A -
Arbitrator(s), Conciliator(s), Other Neutral(s)

Commissioners: Admiral Hermann Freiherr von Spaun, Vice-Admiral Ernest François Fournier, Admiral Feodor Vassilievitch Dubasov, Admiral Sir Lewis Anthony Beaumont, Vice-Admiral Charles H. Davis

Representatives of the Claimant(s) -
Representatives of the Respondent(s) -
Representatives of the Parties
Number of Arbitrators in case 5
Date of commencement of proceeding 25 November 1904
Date of issue of final award 26 February 1905
Length of Proceedings 1-2 years
Additional notes -