October 19, 2012

A public meeting of the Study Group on Choice of Law in International Contracts was held under the auspices of the Advisory Committee on Private International Law on October 19, 2012 at the State Department, Office of Private International Law, South Building, 23rd and C Streets, N.W., Washington, DC.

The meeting was convened to discuss the draft Hague Principles on the Choice of Law in International Contracts in anticipation of a Special Commission of the Hague Conference on Private International Law scheduled to take place in the Hague, November 12-16. A working group of international experts from various countries was established by the Hague Conference to develop draft non-binding principles relevant to the choice of law in international commercial contracts. It is expected that if the Special Commission endorses the principles, the working group will be requested to prepare a detailed commentary to accompany the principles. Ultimately, the Conference would approve both the principles and commentary.

The Study Group reviewed the consolidated version of the preparatory work and draft principles prepared for the Special Commission by the Hague Conference Permanent Bureau (Prel. Doc. No. 1). The discussion initially focused on the purpose of the principles and how they would be used. Several participants concurred with the assumption underlying the Hague project that promoting global acceptance of party autonomy in international contracts was a genuine need of actors in international trade. Regarding the content of the principles, questions were raised about, e.g., their scope of application; the extent of party autonomy in choosing law without any connection to the parties or the transaction; and the importance of reliance upon rules of law as well as national law. There was general support for the draft principles from participants in the Study Group.

No matter was resolved. No report was approved. Another meeting of the Study Group may be convened at a future date.