Private International Law
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Private International Law

Contemporary Challenges and Continuing Relevance

Edited by Franco Ferrari and Diego P. Fernández Arroyo

Is Private International Law (PIL) still fit to serve its function in today’s global environment? In light of some calls for radical changes to its very foundations, this timely book investigates the ability of PIL to handle contemporary and international problems, and inspires genuine debate on the future of the field.
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Chapter 6: Are there universal values in choice of law rules? Should there be any?

Mathias Reimann


This chapter conceives of ‘universal values’ as the fundamental normative premises generally accepted in Western-style choice of law systems. These premises have changed significantly over the last 50 years. The traditional (Savignian) system’s four major premises – equality of legal systems, neutrality of conflicts rules, uniformity of outcomes and predictability of decisions – have eroded to the point where they should no longer be considered ‘universal’. At the same time, we have seen the ascendance of three other normative premises: party autonomy, protection of party expectations and state self-preference. This shift evinces a transition from the classic private law model to what may be called regulated transnationalism. In this new environment, we should embrace a broader value – fundamental fairness: choice of law rules should designate a (substantive) law that imposes obligations on a party only if that party either is a member of the community enacting that law or has submitted itself, explicitly or implicitly, to the law of the respective jurisdiction.

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