International Commercial Arbitrators' Approaches to Contractual Interpretation
2012 International Business Law Journal / Revue de Droit des Affaires Internationales, Forthcoming
16 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2012
Date Written: March 29, 2012
This article considers the available international arbitral awards that involve interpretation of a contract. It divides the awards according to the applicable substantive law, and concludes that international commercial arbitrators generally follow the interpretive rules prescribed by the laws of civil law jurisdictions, but sometimes depart from common law interpretive methods. When international arbitrators depart from the applicable law, or when they apply general principles of international law or act as amiables compositeurs, they tend to follow a civil law approach. They see discerning the true (subjective) common intention of the parties as the goal of contractual interpretation, and while they emphasize the plain meaning of contractual texts, they are willing to consider a wide range extrinsic evidence that would be inadmissible in common law courts.
Keywords: international arbitration, international commercial law, contractual interpretation
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