Timor-Leste’s maritime treaty with the Australian Government


DLA Piper has been advising the Government of Timor-Leste on the negotiation

The Treaty was signed by the Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister for the Delimitation of Borders and Agent in the conciliation process, H.E. Agio Pereira and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, overseen by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and Commission Chair Ambassador Peter Taksøe-Jensen. This brings a dignified and mutually beneficial end to what has been a protracted difference between the neighbours going back a number of decades.

DLA Piper has worked closely with the Timorese leadership on a range of matters over the last ten years. In 2013 a small team began working with the Government on formulating a revised strategy in relation to the Timor Sea. Working with the Timor-Leste Maritime Boundary Office, DLA Piper played a central role in advising on what was a little known compulsory conciliation process – the first time this has been activated under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The agreed boundary is based on the median line between the two countries and will result in almost all of the previous Joint Petroleum Development Area, as well as significant additional areas, becoming the sovereign territory of Timor-Leste.

The global DLA Piper team was led by Australian-based partner Stephen Webb (Picture), with key Sydney-based partner Gitanjali Bajaj, and colleagues Liam Prescott, Greta Bridge, Efi Goudakis and others in Australia, Sadhie Abayasekara (in Timor-Leste), senior partner Janet Legrand in London and DLA ABBC in Lisbon. The US team was led by Mac Bernstein and included Professor Harold Koh, Senator Mitchell (having played a leading role in the Northern Ireland peace process) and others. DLA Piper instructed leading international counsel Professor Vaughan Lowe and Sir Michael Wood in London and junior counsel Eran Sthoeger in New York.

Involved fees earner: Stephen Webb – DLA Piper; Gitanjali Bajaj – DLA Piper; Greta Bridge – DLA Piper; Janet Legrand – DLA Piper; Liam Prescott – DLA Piper; Efthimia Goudakis – DLA Piper;

Law Firms: DLA Piper;

Clients: Timor-Leste;

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Author: Michael Patrini