Law of the sea is an area where few opportunties to take jurisdiction are declined by international tribunals. Expansion of judicial fiat satisfies the lawyerly appetite for binding global law. However, it poses risks to the maritime interests of States subject to compulsory binding procedures under the Law of the Sea Convention, by eroding the premise of their direct consent to international law obligations. The Philippines v China arbitration is demonstrated here to be an instance, part of a pattern in international law, where judicial jurisdiction is adventurously asserted while sovereign consent is diminished. In response, China is resisting international law in the South China Sea. Indications for the near future are that international maritime relations will be judicialised further. In the longer term, this may result in disrepute, disuse and disobedience of the judiciary in connection with maritime dispute settlement.