Books Developments in PIL

Ferrari on Forum Shopping Despite Unification

Franco  Ferrari (New York University School of Law) has published his Hague Lectures on Forum Shopping despite Unification of Law in the Collected Courses of The Hague Academy of International Law (volume 413). 

The abstract reads:

It has often been suggested that forum shopping is “evil” and needs to be eradicated. And it is in this context that one must understand statements by commentators to the effect that the unification of substantive law through international conventions constitutes one way to reach this result. These lectures show not only that the qualification of forum shopping as something that is deplorable is outdated, that the negative attitude vis—à—vis forum shopping seems grounded on outdated preconception and prejudice, and disregards, for example, that critical analysis has demonstrated that forum shopping also has beneficial effects, such as the promotion of ethical representation of one’s client, the protection of access to justice, and the provision of a remedy for every injury.

These lectures also show that the drafting of uniform substantive law convention cannot prevent forum shopping, for many reasons, of which these lectures create a taxonomy. The reasons are classified into two main categories, namely convention-extrinsic and convention-intrinsic reasons. The former category comprises those reasons upon which uniform substantive law conventions do not have an impact at all, and which therefore will continue to exist regardless of the coming into force of any such convention. These reasons range from the costs of access to justice to the bias of potential adjudicators to the enforceability of judgments. These and the other convention-extrinsic reasons discussed in these lectures are and will not be influenced by uniform substantive law conventions.

The convention-intrinsic reasons, on the other hand, are reasons that relate to the nature and design of uniform substantive law conventions, and include their limited substantive and international spheres of application as well as their limited scope of application, the need to provide for reservations, etc. And no drafting efforts will be able to do away with these convention-intrinsic reasons, because they touch upon features of these conventions that are ontological in nature.

The lectures also address another forum shopping reason that cannot be overcome, namely the impossibility to ensure uniform applications and interpretations of the various uniform substantive law conventions. As these lectures show, as long as these conventions are interpreted horizontally, diverging interpretations and applications by courts of different jurisdictions of conventions that need to be drafted using vague language cannot be avoided. This is due mostly to a natural tendency by adjudicators to rely on their domestic legal background and notions when having to resolve problems arising in the context of the interpretation and application uniform substantive law conventions.

It is in light of all of the above that the lectures predict that forum shopping is here to stay.

More details, including the table of contents, can be found here.