Sectoral Fragmentation in Transnational Contract Law

58 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2019

See all articles by Joshua Karton

Joshua Karton

Queen's University Faculty of Law; National Taiwan University - College of Law

Date Written: March 2019


The transnational commercial law literature has long told a story in which globalization yields ever-increasing legal harmonization. This Article argues that it is a mistake to equate globalization with harmonization. Even as the law of commercial relationships continues to globalize, it will split along industry sector lines. National boundaries will matter less and boundaries between industries will matter more, with one law for financial services, another for oil and gas, another for software, and so on. Borrowing a term and a conceptual framework from the public international law literature, the Article calls this phenomenon “sectoral fragmentation.”

State governance declines in importance compared with private governance, the borderless and sector-specific structure of commercial communities is being recapitulated in formal contract law. This Article describes the forces driving sectoral fragmentation and the specific legal mechanisms through which it occurs. It concludes by exploring the consequences of sectoral fragmentation for contract law and for the regulation of cross-border commercial activity more generally.

Keywords: transnational law, transnational legal theory, international law, international legal theory, contract law, international arbitration, fragmentation, comparative law, commercial law

Suggested Citation

Karton, Joshua, Sectoral Fragmentation in Transnational Contract Law (March 2019). University of Pennsylvania Journal of Business Law, Vol. 21, No. 1, 2019. Available at SSRN:

Joshua Karton (Contact Author)

Queen's University Faculty of Law ( email )

Macdonald Hall
128 Union St.
Kingston, Ontario K7L3N6

National Taiwan University - College of Law ( email )

No.1, Sec.4, Roosevelt Road
Taipei, 10617, 10617

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