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This work is a revised version of a doctoral thesis submitted in 1973 to the University of London. Its primary purpose is to set out, in a relatively condensed form, the practice of the legislature, executive, and judiciary concerning the bed and subsoil of the sea (together referred to as the solum) adjacent to the dry land of the United Kingdom and to its inland waters. Its secondary purpose is to provide a brief analysis of the legal status of such solum in the light of the material above.
The study has been compiled in large measure from official papers available to public scrutiny under the ‘Thirty-Year Rule’ in the Public Records Act 1967. There is the probability that some relevant papers have not been released to the public archives for one reason or another. There is the certainty that there are more papers of relevance in the public archives which the author has failed to discover.
Two areas of practice are omitted from the scope of this study. First, the work does not cover practice pursuant to the Continental Shelf Act 1964. Secondly, it does not cover practice in former or present British territories, outside the United Kingdom. The author is well aware of the legal problems which have arisen in the United States, Canada, and Australia over the marginal sea and solum. It is hoped that the contents of this work will not be irrelevant to persons interested in those problems.
Finally, although the study purports to cover the whole United Kingdom, the author is conscious of his English origin, and apologizes in advance to those in Scotland and Northern Ireland who may find the material on their jurisdictions deficient.