International Arbitration as Private or Public Good

34 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2017

See all articles by Ralf Michaels

Ralf Michaels

Duke University School of Law

Date Written: July 27, 2017


This chapter goes at the private and public nature of international arbitration in a manner different from the usual one. It asks not whether arbitration is private or public law, which remains a problematic categorical distinction, but instead whether it is a private or public good. The distinction between private goods and public goods, developed in economics, promises new insights for an assessment of arbitration, too. The chapter first introduces that economic distinction between private and public goods. It then demonstrates the ways in which adjudication by courts combines elements of private and public goods, before finding a parallel combination of private and public good aspects in international arbitration. The discussion will concern mainly commercial arbitration, though investment arbitration will also be considered to some extent as well. The chapter ends by laying out some implications.

Suggested Citation

Michaels, Ralf, International Arbitration as Private or Public Good (July 27, 2017). Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series No. 2017-57. Available at SSRN: or

Ralf Michaels (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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