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A comparative study of the fundamental juridical nature, classification and private law enforcement of jurisdiction and choice of law agreements in the English Common Law of Conflict of Laws, the European Union Private International Law Regime and the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2016
Number of pages356
Awarding Institution
  • University of Aberdeen
Thesis sponsors
  • University of Aberdeen
Award date10/06/2016
  • University of Aberdeen
<mark>Original language</mark>English


During the course of this PhD thesis, it will be argued that it is misconceived to think of jurisdiction and choice of law agreements as unilaterally enforced domestic private law obligations within an English 'dispute resolution' paradigm because multilateral private international law rules are essentially secondary rules for the allocation of regulatory authority which may not permit a separation of functions or the relative effect of such agreements. In other words, a multilateral system for the public ordering of private law will assume priority over or trump the existence of the private law rights and obligations of the parties to the jurisdiction and choice of law agreement and the unilateral enforcement of such rights via anti-suit injunctions and the damages remedy. Otherwise, the private law enforcement of the mutual contractual obligation not to sue in a noncontractual forum attributed to an exclusive jurisdiction agreement may operate as a 'unilateral private international law rule' with a controversial and confrontational allocative function of its own. It may lead to the 'privatization of court access' by dubiously perpetuating and prioritizing the unilateral private ordering of private law over the multilateral public ordering of private law. Moreover, the enforcement of jurisdiction and choice of law agreements by private law remedies within a multilateral system will necessarily distort the allocative or distributive function of private international law rules by giving precedence to the redistributive will of the parties premised on principles of corrective justice inter partes of questionable applicability. International structural order is compromised in the unilateral private law enforcement of jurisdiction and choice of law agreements as such enforcement gives rise to a clash of sovereign legal orders and also the possibility of 'regime collision' by interfering with the jurisdiction, judgments and choice of law apparatus of foreign courts which a multilateral conception of private international law is supposed to prevent in the first place. However, this PhD thesis will argue that outside the confines of the EU private international law regime, the variable geometry that is characteristic of the international commercial litigation sphere may not impede the separation of functions within such agreements. Whether an English court ought to grant a pragmatic private law remedy enforcing such agreements is of course another matter. Ultimately, a more comprehensive concept of transnational justice in private international law disputes informed by methodological pluralism needs to be developed. A notion of transnational justice which seeks to simultaneously balance the competing demands of the notion of 'conflicts justice' which prioritizes ex ante multilateral allocative imperatives and the idea of an ex post material justice between the litigating parties in the individual instance.