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Part 1 General and Special Reports, 2 The Story of Party Autonomy »

Symeon C Symeonides
From: Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts
Edited By: Daniel Girsberger, Thomas Kadner Graziano, Jan L Neels
This chapter discusses the principle of party autonomy. The term ‘party autonomy’ as used in this book is a shorthand expression for the notion that parties to a multistate contract should be allowed, within certain parameters and limitations, to agree in advance on which law will govern the contract. This notion is now considered a universal principle of private international law (PIL) or conflicts law. In 2015, the year in which the Hague Conference on Private International Law adopted the Principles on Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts, only eleven of the 161 countries surveyed did not adhere to this principle. It has been characterized as ‘perhaps the most widely accepted private international rule of our time’, a ‘fundamental right’, and an ‘irresistible’ principle that belongs to ‘the common core’ of nearly all legal systems. Naturally, there are significant variations from one legal system to the next about not only the exact scope, modalities, parameters, and limitations of this principle, but also about its theoretical source and justification. The chapter then traces the historical origins and subsequent evolution of the basic principle.

Part 2 National and Regional Reports, Part 2.6 North America: Coordinated by Geneviève Saumier, 68 United States of America: American Perspectives on the Hague Principles »

Symeon C Symeonides, Neil B Cohen
From: Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts
Edited By: Daniel Girsberger, Thomas Kadner Graziano, Jan L Neels
This chapter focuses on American perspectives on the Hague Principles. At the state level, Louisiana and Oregon have enacted comprehensive choice of law codifications, which strongly endorse party autonomy. Many other states have enacted statutory provisions that affect party autonomy. At one end of the spectrum, there are provisions that prohibit or restrict outbound choice of law clauses in certain contracts that have enumerated contacts with the enacting state. At the other end of the spectrum, there are statutes designed to ensure enforcement of inbound choice of law clauses in certain commercial contracts with high-dollar value, even in the absence of any connection with the enacting state. Despite the multiplicity of state statutes, many of which pre-empt a judicial choice of law or obviate the need for it, the bulk of American conflicts law for matters other than those governed by the Uniform Commercial Code is found in judicial decisions. In keeping with the common law tradition, American courts play an active role in the development of the law, both in general and regarding party autonomy in particular. One hopes that American courts will take into account the Hague Principles, if only for answering those questions, as few as they may be, whose answer is unclear under American law.