The Futility of Unification and Harmonization in International Commercial Law

40 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 1999

See all articles by Paul B. Stephan

Paul B. Stephan

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: June 1999

Abstract

This paper challenges the conventional wisdom that unification and harmonization of international commercial law is desirable and should be pursued. Drawing from the literature on private legislatures, it argues that the expert groups that produce international conventions and model laws are likely to produce either vague norms that impose no significant constraint on domestic decisionmakers, or precise rules that benefit discrete interest groups. It illustrates this argument with examples from the Hague and Hamburg Rules, the Warsaw Convention, the Convention on the International Sale of Goods, the Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits, and the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency. It advances arguments for an alternative regime of expanded contractual choice to select national law to govern these transactions.

Suggested Citation

Stephan, Paul B., The Futility of Unification and Harmonization in International Commercial Law (June 1999). University of Virginia School of Law, Legal Studies Working Paper No. 99-10. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=169209 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.169209

Paul B. Stephan (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

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