Lex Mercatoria



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The "Transnational" Political Economy:

A Framework for Analysis.[*]

Jarrod Wiener, University of Kent at Canterbury[**]


Private International Trade Law:

The Positivist Perspective.

The Autonomist Perspective.

The Sources of the Lex Mercatoria: "Lex", or "Principa".

Applicability and Coercive Force.

"Delocalised International Commercial Arbitration":

Preliminary Observations:

Public International Trade Law.

Normative, Structural Imperatives of the Transnational Political Economy.

Conclusion: The Agenda for Research:




Sovereignty, Authority, and Governance:





SiSU Metadata, document information


SiSU Manifest, alternative outputs etc.

The "Transnational" Political Economy: - A Framework for Analysis.

copy @ Lex Mercatoria


 1. J. Wiener and A.J. Williams, The Transnational Political Economy: An Introduction to the Politics of the International Economy, (Forthcoming).

 2. "United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Concludes Twenty-Seventh Session, 31 May-17 June; Adopts Model Law Incorporating Services, Procurement Procedures and Guide to its Enactment", L\TR26, 17 June 1994.

 3. Quoted in P.M. North and J.J. Fawcett, Cheshire and North's Private International Law 11th. ed., Butterworths, London, 1987, p.485.

 4. See ie., Cheshire, Private International Law, Butterworths, London, 1965, p.36; Dicey, Conflict of Laws, Stevens, 1958, General Principle 5.

 5. Arguably the first was Lambert, writing "Sources du Droit Comparandeacute; ou supranational, législation uniforme et jurisprudence comparative in the 1920s. Most scholars credit Jessup's, Transnational Law, 1956, as beginning the debate. Given the exigencies of space here, it is not possible to provide a comprehensive genealogy of the evolution of the theory. However, this is done with exceptional clarity by Filip De Ly, International Business Law and Lex Mercatoria, North-Holland, London, 1992, esp. chs. 4 and 5.

 6. Thomas E. Carbonneau, "The Remaking of Arbitration: Design and Destiny", in Carbonneau (ed.), Lex Mercatoria and Arbitration, Transnational Juris Publications, Inc., Dobbs Ferry, New York, 1990, p.7.

 7. Filip De Ly, International Business Law and Lex Mercatoria, North-Holland, London, 1992, p.58.

 8. Schmitthoff, "International Business Law: A New Law Merchant", Current Law and Social Problems, v. 129, 1961 (Reprinted in Chia-Jui Ceng (ed.), Clive M. Schmitthoff's Select Essays on International Trade, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, London, 1988, pp.20-37, at p.20); and Schmitthoff, "The Unification of the Law of International Trade", Journal of Business Law, 1968, pp.105-119 (Reprinted in Chia-Jui Ceng, ibid., pp.105-119). For a more detailed exposition of the Medieval mercantile law, see Harold J. Berman and Colin Kaufman, "The Law of International Commercial Transactions (Lex Mercatoria)", Harvard International Law Journal, Vol.19, No.1, 1978, pp.221-277.

 9. "Schmitthoff, "International Business Law: A New Law Merchant", op. cit., p.27.

 10. Ibid., p.31.

 11. Ibid., p.32.

 12. Schmitthoff, "Export Law - Then and Now", "Export", Journal of the Institute of Export, vol.48, No.9, 1985, pp.34-35. Reprinted in Chia-Jui Ceng (ed.), op. cit., pp.123-127, at p.123.

 13. Schmitthoff, "International Business Law: A New Law Merchant", op. cit., pp.34-36; Schmitthoff, "The Law of International Trade, Its Growth and Operation", in Schmitthoff (ed.), The Sources of International Trade With Special Reference to East-West Trade, Stevens and Sons Ltd., London, 1964, pp.3-38 (Reprinted in Chia-Jui Ceng, op. cit., pp.137-169, at p.148); Schmitthoff, "The New Sources of the Law of International Trade", International Social Sciences Journal, Vol. XV, No.2 (Reprinted in Chia-Jui Ceng, op. cit., pp.131-136); and Schmitthoff, "The Unification of International Trade, The Unification of the Law of International Trade, Handelshögskolan Skrifter 1964-1965, Gotherburg School of Economics and Business Administration Publication, 1964, pp.5-28 (Reprinted in Chia-Jui Ceng, op. cit., pp.170-187).

 14. Schmitthoff, "The Unification or Harmonisation of Law by Means of Standard Contracts and General Conditions", International Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol.17, 1968, p.551 (Reprinted in Chia-Jui Ceng, op. cit., pp.188-205).

 15. Schmitthoff, "The Law of International Trade, Its Growth, Formulation, and Operation", op. cit, p.149.

 16. See note 9, supra.

 17. Schmitthoff, "The Unification of the Law of International Trade", op. cit., p.182.

 18. Schmitthoff, "The Law of International Trade", Commercial Law in a Changing Economic Climate, 2nd. ed., 1981, pp.18-31 (Reprinted in Chia-Jui Ceng, op. cit., pp.219-230).

 19. Carbonneau, op. cit., p.14.

 20. See: Goldman, "The Applicable Law: General Principles of Law - the Lex Mercatoria", in J. Lew (ed.), Contemporary Problems in International Arbitration 113 (1987).

 21. The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Mustill, "The New Lex Mercatoria: The First Twenty-five Years", in Maarten Bos and Ian Brownlie, Liber Amicorum for the Rt. Hon. Lord Wilberforce, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1987, pp.149-183, at. pp.174-177.

 22. This list is compiled from: Emmanuel Gaillard (ed.), Transnational Rules in International Commercial Arbitration, Institute of International Business Law and Practice, International Chamber of Commerce, Paris, 1993, pp.67-68; Ugo Dreatta, Ralph B. Lake, and Ved. P. Nanda, Breach and Adaptation of International Contracts: An Introduction to the Lex Mercatoria, Butterworths, 1992, esp. p.13; Ole Lando, "The Lex Mercatoria in International Commercial Arbitration", International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol.34, 1985, pp.747- 768, esp. pp.748-752; and Mustill, op. cit.

 23. Dreatta, Lake and Nanda, op. cit., pp.13-14.

 24. Texaco Overseas Petroleum and California Asiatic Oil Company v. The Government of the Libyan Arab Republic, 53 ILR 1979. This concept has been rejected by Sonorajah, The Pursuit of Nationalised Property, Martinus Nijhoff, Dordrecht, 1986.

 25. Ibid, p.10.

 26. Lord McNair, "The General Principles of Law Recognised by Civilised Nations", British Yearbook of International Law, Vol.33, 1957, pp.1-19, at p.6..

 27. In Gaillard, op. cit., p.29.

 28. Dreatta, Lake and Nanda, op. cit., p.15.

 29. Mustill, op. cit., p.157.

 30. Mustill, op. cit., p.159; De Ly, op. cit., pp.183-192.

 31. The lead cases on this dictum are well known: Lord Atkin in R. v. International Trustee for the Protection of Bondholders Aktiengesellshaft and Lord Wright in Vita Food Products Inc. V Unus Shipping Co. Also, Dicey, op. cit, Rule 127, sub-rule 1.

 32. Norbert Horn, "Uniformity and Diversity in the Law of International Commercial Contracts", in Norbert Horn and Clive M. Schmitthoff (eds.), The Transnational Law of International Commercial Transactions, Klewer, London, 1982, p.10. Specifically, Horacio A. Grigera Naòn cites Article 804 of the Bolivian Civil Code which mandates that contracts that are to be performed in Bolivia, even if concluded outside the country, are to be governed by Bolivian law. See Naòn, "The UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods", in ibid., pp.89-124, at p.98. See also De Ly, op. cit., p.52.

 33. De Ly, op. cit., p.53.

 34. Mustill, op. cit., p.156.

 35. Keith Highet, "The Enigma of the Lex Mercatoria", in Carbonneau, op. cit., pp.99-108, at p.100.

 36. Berman and Kaufmman, op. cit., p.264.

 37. De Ly, op. cit., pp.172-174.

 38. De Ly, op. cit., pp.175-183.

 39. Dreatta, Lake, and Nanda, op. cit., p.15.

 40. See: J. Berman and Felix Dasser, "The 'New' Law Merchant and the 'Old': Sources, Content, and Legitimacy", in Carbonneau, op. cit., pp.21-36; Bernard Audit, "The Vienna Sales Convention and the Lex Mercatoria", in Carbonneau, op. cit., pp.139-160.

 41. United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (Vienna, 1980) in Indira Carr and Richard Kidner, Statutes and Conventions on International Trade Law, Cavendish Publishing Ltd., London, 1993, p.390.

 42. Audit, op. cit., at p.139 and p.141.

 43. Ibid, p.143.

 44. Ibid, p.153 and p.159.

 45. De Ly, op. cit., p.205.

 46. See Schmitthoff, op. cit.

 47. John Honnold, Uniform Law for International Sales Under the 1980 United Nations Convention, Klewer, London, 1982, p.60.

 48. Ibid, p.60.

 49. Ibid, p.214.

 50. Mustill, op. cit., p.167, note 57.

 51. Mustill, op. cit., p.179.

 52. Mustill, op. cit., p.161.

 53. Highet, op. cit., p.106.

 54. De Ly, op. cit., p.134.

 55. H.L.A. Hart, The Concept of Law, Oxford University Press, London, 1961.

 56. Friedrich V. Kratchowil, Rules, Norms, and Decisions: On the Conditions of Practical and Legal Reasoning in International Relations and Domestic Affairs, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1989.

 57. Hans Kelsen, General Theory of Law and the State, (Translated by Anders Wedberg), Russell and Russell, New York, 1961; Kelsen, The Pure Theory of Law, (Translated by Max Knight), University of California Press, Brekeley, 1970.

 58. Keohane, "Reciprocity in International Relations", in Keohane, International Institutions and State Power, Westview, 1989, p.146-147.

 59. There is also the interesting question of whether the lex mercatoria could form an "international regime" in the sense of shared norms, rules, and decision-making procedures. Again, this is a tangential discussion that, while interesting, would require a good deal of space to elaborate.

 60. Highet, op. cit.

 61. See Jan Paulsson, "Delocalisation of International Commercial Arbitration: When and Why it Matters", International Commercial Law Quarterly, Vol.32, 1983, pp.53-61, esp. p.57.

 62. See John R. Crook, "Applicable Law in International Arbitration: The Iran-US Claims Tribunal Experience", American Journal of International Law, Vol.83, 1989, pp.278-311.

 63. The Questech decision, in 9 Iran-US C.T.R, 122-123; quoted in Gaillard, op. cit., p.111.

 64. See A.F.M. Maniruzzaman, "Conflict of Laws Issues in International Arbitration: Practice and Trends", Arbitration International, Vol.9, No.4, 1993, pp.371-403.

 65. See Croff, "The Applicable Law in an International Commercial Arbitration: Is It Still a Conflict of Laws Problem?", International Lawyer, Vol.16, 1982, pp.613-645). A.F.M Maniruzzaman lists the latter three, in op. cit.

 66. F.A. Mann, "England Rejects 'Delocalised' Contracts and Arbitration", International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol.33, 1983, pp.193-198.

 67. The Convention is reproduced in Carr and Kidner, op. cit., esp. p.304.

 68. Croff, op. cit.

 69. This is reproduced in Carr and Kidner, op. cit., esp. p.310.

 70. Cited in Gaillard, op. cit., p.36.

 71. See Friedrich K. Juenger, "The Inter-American Convention on the Law Applicable to International Contracts: Some Highlights and Comparisons", American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol.42, No.2, 1994, pp.381-393.

 72. Cited in Alan Redfern and Martin Hunter, International Commercial Arbitration, 2nd. ed., Sweet and Maxwell, London, 1991, p.120.

 73. Jean-Pierre Ancel, "French Judicial Attitudes Towards International Arbitration", Arbitration International, Vol.9, No.2, 1993, pp.121-129, at p.127; Lando, op. cit., p.756.

 74. Dreatta, Lake and Nanda, op. cit., p.16.

 75. Redfern and Hunter, op. cit., pp.118-120; also Lando, op. cit., p.757.

 76. William W. Parks, "Control Mechanisms in the Development of a Modern Lex Mercatoria", in Carbonneau, op. cit., pp.109-138.

 77. Mustill, op. cit., p.154.

 78. Bond, in Gaillard, op. cit., p.80.

 79. Gaillard, op. cit., p.75.

 80. Bond, in Gaillard, op. cit., p.80.

 81. See generally: Gerard Curzon, Multilateral Commercial Diplomacy: The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and its Impact on National Commercial Policies and Techniques, Michael Joseph, London, 1965; Kenneth Dam, The GATT: Law and International Economic Organisation, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1970; and John Jackson, The World Trading System: Law and Policy of International Economic Relations, MIT Press, London, 1992.

 82. See E.E. Schattschneider, Politics, Pressure, and the Tariff: A Study in Free Private Enterprise in Pressure Politics, as Shown in the 1929-1930 Revision of the Tariff, Prentice- Hall, New York, 1935; and Charles Kindleberger, The World in Depression, 1929-1939, Allen Lane and Penguin Press, London, 1973.

 83. Cordell Hull, The Memoirs of Cordell Hull, Vol.I., Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1948, p.354.

 84. See Richard N. Gardner, Sterling-Dollar Diplomacy in Current Perspective: The Origins and the Prospects of our International Economic Order, Columbia University Press, New York, 1980; Clair Wilcox, A Charter for World Trade, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1949; and William Adams Brown, Jr., The United States and the Restoration of World Trade: An Analysis and Appraisal of the ITO Charter and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, The Brookings Institution, Washington D.C., 1950.

 85. Joan Eldelman Spero, The Politics of International Economic Relations, 3rd.ed., St. Martin's Press, New York, 1985, p.117.

 86. OECD, National Accounts 1960-1988, OECD, Paris, 1990; Spero, op. cit., p.118.

 87. Richard Boltuck and Robert E. Litan (eds.), Down in the Dumps: Administration of the Unfair Trade Laws, The Brookings Institution, Washington D.C., 1991. See also, "Foreign Trade: Roughing up the Opposition", The Economist, 9 June 1984, p.42.

 88. See Mac Destler, American Trade Politics: System Under Stress, Institute for International Economics, Washington, and the Twentieth Century Fund, New York, 1986.

 89. Jagdish Bhagwati, Protectionism, MIT Press, London, 1988., p.41.

 90. See a compilation of documents by Gardner Patterson, Robert Baldwin, the US Department of Commerce, and the US Department of State, in United States International Economic Policy in an Interdependent World: Papers Submitted to the Commission on International Trade and Investment and Published in Conjunction with the Commission's Report to the President, Compendium of Papers, Volume 1, US Government Printing Office, Washington, 1971; and GATT, The Tokyo Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations, Report by the Director- General of GATT, Geneva, April 1979.

 91. New York Times, 23 November, 1982, D1 and D15.

 92. "Getting Services on the Agenda By Working the Washington Crowd", National Journal, 30 August 1986, pp.2060-2061.

 93. Berman and Kaufman, op. cit., p.222.

 94. Contractor, F.J, "Do Government Policies Toward Foreign Investment Matter?", Rutgers University, GSM Working Paper, No.90-15, July 1990.

 95. Mustill, op. cit., p.181.

 96. Michael S. Minor, "The Demise of Expropriation as an Instrument of LDC Policy", Journal of International Business Studies, Vol.25, No.1, 1994, esp. table on p.180.

 97. OECD, Promoting Private Enterprise in Developing Countries, OECD, Paris, 1990, p.36.

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