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Research Project | Department I

Uniform Private Law

My PhD thesis is embedded in the theoretical discourse on transnational commercial law. During the course of the 18th and 19th century, the law of the European merchants, the medieval Lex mercatoria, i.e. the body of commercial law created by the mercantile community itself, based on commercial customs, practices and trade usages, was incorporated into the commercial law of the nation states. This development led to a formalization and rationalization of the law of commercial contracts, albeit at the expense of legal fragmentation.

Already at the end of the 19th century the idea evolved to overcome this legal fragmentation by means of unification of law through international law conventions. However, the process of creating international law conventions advanced slowly. Hence, private actors equally approached the aim of unification of law. Especially the international chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris, which understands itself as a global representative of business interests, addressed the topic by codifying international trade usages. More recently, a variety of other institutions have pursued this aim, such as for instance the Institute international pour l'unification du droit privé (Unidroit), which has been publishing “Principles of International Commercial Contracts“ based on a comparative law approach since 2004.

However, the qualification of such non-state and therefore non-binding regulations is still controversial in legal theory and doctrine. Against this background, my thesis is focusing on the conditions under which these private regulations can achieve their core aim of legal unification in practice and, in particular, how these regulations are applied by state courts.

My research project was developed at “The Collaborative Research Center 597” of the DFG, Project A4 “The Constitution of Global Commerce” of the University of Bremen, supervised by Prof. Gralf-Peter Calliess.

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