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De Jure

versão On-line ISSN 1466-3597

De Jure (Pretoria) vol.44 no.1 Pretoria  2011

 

ARTICLES

 

Tacit choice of law in the Hague Principles on Choice of Law in International Contracts

 

Stilswyende regskeuse in die "Hague Principles on Choice of Law in International Contracts"

 

 

Jan L NeelsI ; Eesa A FredericksII

IBCom LLM Dr Jur Professor of Private International Law, University of Johannesburg
IIBA LLM2 Senior lecturer in the Department of Mercantile Law, University of Johannesburg

 

 


ABSTRACT

Die onderhawige artikel bevat die voorlegging wat insake stilswyende regskeuse aan die werkgroep gemoeid met die opstel van die Hague Principles on Choice of Law in International Contracts gemaak is. Aandag word aan die verskillende kriteria vir stilwyende regskeuse in verskeie internasionale instrumente en nasionale regstelsels bestee. Daar word aangevoer dat relatief streng vereistes vir 'n stilwyende regskeuse gestel moet word om regsonsekerheid en die omseiling van die objektiewe internasionaal-privaatregtelike norme te voorkom. Die prosedurele element wat in hierdie verband in sekere kodes gevind word, moet vermy word in die tersaaklike aanwysingsregtelike konteks. Die moontlike bronne vir 'n stilswyende regskeuse word bespreek en dit blyk dat die kontraktuele bedinge asook die omstandighede van die geval in hierdie verband 'n rol mag speel. Die outeurs doen aan die hand dat die keuse van 'n forum nie as sodanig 'n stilwyende regskeuse daarstel nie. Met inagneming van die voorafgaande ontleding, is sekere voorstelle oor 'n juiste formulering van die toets vir 'n stilwyende regskeuse gemaak. Daar word aangedui welke wysigings deur die werksgroep aangebring en op welke formulering voorlopig ooreengekom is. Die voorgestelde reël kan soos volg vertaal word: "'n Kontrak word beheers deur die regstelsel of regsreëls wat deur die partye gekies is. Die keuse of enige wysiging daarvan moet uitdruklik gemaak word of duidelik blyk uit die bedinge van die kontrak of uit die omstandighede. 'n Ooreenkoms tussen die partye om jurisdiksie aan 'n hof of arbitrasietribunaal in 'n sekere staat te verleen, kom nie as sodanig op 'n keuse van die reg van daardie staat neer nie."


 

 

“Full text available only in PDF format”

 

 

* Member of the working group drafting the Hague Principles on Choice of Law in International Contracts for the Hague Conference on Private International Law.
1 See http://www.hcch.net/.
2 See in general, Bureau permanent de la Conférence de La Haye de droit international privé (Pertegás, Radic et al "Choix de la loi applicable aux contrats du commerce international: des principes de La Haye" 2010 1 Revue critique de droit international privé 83 (available at http://www.hcch.net/catalogue/i0035.pdf).         [ Links ]
3 "These Principles set forth general rules for international commercial contracts. They shall be applied when the parties have agreed that their contract be governed by them. They may be applied when the parties have agreed that their contract be governed by general principles of law, the lex mercatoria or the like. They may be applied when the parties have not chosen any law to govern their contract. They may be used to interpret or supplement international uniform law instruments. They may be used to interpret or supplement domestic law. They may serve as a model for national and international legislators." The full text of the UNIDROIT Principles may be found at http://www.unidroit.org. The first edition appeared in 1994 and the third edition is expected to be approved by the governing council of UNIDROIT during 2011. No changes in the preamble are expected in the 2011 edition.
4 Although the courts are usually bound by the lex foris private international law, there are jurisdictions where the courts have wide-ranging powers of adopting the rules and principles of international instruments. See s 173 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.
5 Commercial arbitral tribunals are often not bound by the lex foris private international law. See art 28(2) of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (1985/2006): "Failing any designation by the parties, the arbitral tribunal shall apply the law determined by the conflict of laws rules which it considers applicable."
6 The word "supranational" is used here to refer to instruments of regional or international organisations with binding legislative powers. The European Union would be the primary example. See Anderson et al (eds) Collins English Dictionary (2006) sv "supranational": "beyond the authority or jurisdiction of one national government". As an example, the editors indeed refer to "the supranational institutions of the EU".
7 The wording used here is based on the first author's proposal for a preamble to the Hague Principles, taking into account amendments proposed by Mr Andrew Dickinson and Prof Lauro Gama E Souza Jr and as accepted by the working group.
8 The proposal was drafted by the first author of this article. It inter alia draws on research performed for the purposes of a report to the European Commission on the revision of the Rome Convention on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations (1980) (hereinafter "the Rome Convention"), published as Neels and Fredericks "Revision of the Rome Convention on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations (1980): perspectives from international commercial and financial law" 2004 1 eUrEDIA Revue européenne de droit bancaire et financier / European Banking and Financial Law Journal 1 73 (reprinted in 2006 TSAR 121).
9 Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations (hereinafter "the Rome I Regulation" or "Rome I').
10 An alternative for "chosen" would be "designated": see eg art 35(1) of the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules (1976/2010). See art 8(2) of the protocol to the UNIDROIT Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment(Cape Town, 2001): "The parties to an agreement, or a contract of sale, or a related guarantee contract or subordination agreement may agree on the law which is to govern their contractual rights and obligations, wholly or in part."
11 See art 3(1) of the Rome I Regulation.
12 See art 7(1) of the Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (1986) (hereinafter "the 1986 Hague Convention"); art 7 of the Inter-American Convention on the Law Applicable to International Contracts (Mexico City, 1994) (hereinafter "the Mexico City Convention"); art 1(2) of the International Chamber of Commerce's Draft Recommendation on the Law Applicable to International Contracts of 1981 (see the appendix to Lando "Conflict-of-law rules for arbitrators" in Bernstein, Drobnig and Kötz (eds) Festschrift für Konrad Zweigert zum 70.Geburtstag (1981) 157 173-78); s 7(2) of the Oregon Conflicts Law Applicable to Contracts; art 34 of the Puerto Rico Projet (see Puerto Rican Academy of Legislation and Jurisprudence (reporters Symeonides and von Mehren) "Projet for the codification of Puerto Rican private international law", appendix to Symeonides "Codifying choice of law for contracts: the Puerto Rico Projet' in Nafziger and Symeonides (eds) Law and Justice in a Multistate World. Essays in honor of Arthur T von Mehren (2002) 419 435-37).         [ Links ]
13 See art 3(1) of the Rome Convention.
14 (The Hague, 1955) (hereinafter "the 1955 Hague Convention"). See art 2, second sentence: "Cette désignation doit faire l'objet d'une clause expresse, ou résulter indubitablement des dispositions du contrat."
15 See eg Forsyth Private International Law. The Modern Roman-Dutch Law including the Jurisdiction of the High Courts (2002) 303-04;         [ Links ] Kropholler Internationales Privatrecht (2006) 460; Strikwerda Inleiding tot het Nederlandse Internationaal Privaatrecht (2008) 166; Sykes and Pryles Australian Private International Law (1991) 108 (but see Mortensen Private International Law in Australia (2006) 393-95).
16 See eg Collins (ed) Dicey, Morris and Collins on the Conflict of Laws 2 (2006) 1573-77; Diwan and Diwan Private International Law. Indian and English (1998) 512-13; Pitel and Rafferty Conflict of Laws (2010) 274-75; Xiao and Long "Contractual party autonomy in Chinese private international law" 2009 Yearbook of Private International Law 193 198-99.
17 As found in art 6(1) of the Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Trusts and on their Recognition (1985) and in art 25(1) of the South Korean Private International Law Act of 2001.
18 Art 3(1): "A contract shall be governed by the law chosen by the parties. The choice must be expressed or demonstrated with reasonable certainty by the terms of the contract or the circumstances of the case...." See art 3111 of the Quebec Civil Code of 2000: "L'acte juridique, qu'il présente ou non un élément d'extranéité, est régi par la loi désignée expressément dans l'acte ou dont la désignation résulte d'une façon certaine des dispositions de cet acte." Art 21(a) of the UN Convention on Independent Guarantees and Stand-by Letters of Credit (1995) merely uses the word "demonstrated".
19 Art 24(1): "Obligations arising from contracts shall be governed by the law explicitly chosen by the parties. Choice of law that may be understood with reasonable certainty from the provisions of the contract or the relevant circumstances shall also be valid" (translation in 2007 Yearbook of Private International Law 583). See art 25(1) of the South Korean Private International Law Act "A contract shall be governed by the law expressly or impliedly chosen by the parties, provided that an implied choice may be acknowledged only when it is reasonable to do so in the light of the terms of the contract or the circumstances of the case" (translation in 2003 Yearbook of Private International Law 315).
20 Art 7(1): "A contract of sale is governed by the law chosen by the parties. The parties' agreement on this choice must be express or be clearly demonstrated by the terms of the contract and the conduct of the parties, viewed in their entirety...."
21 S 7(1): "[T]he contractual rights and duties of the parties are governed by the law or laws that the parties have chosen s 7(2): "The choice of law must be express or clearly demonstrated from the terms of the contract ...".
22 Art 34: "Contractual obligations are governed by the law or laws chosen for that purposes by the parties. The choice must be express or must be demonstrated clearly from the provisions of the contract or from the conduct of the parties...."
23 Art 3(1): "A contract shall be governed by the law chosen by the parties. The choice shall be made expressly or clearly demonstrated by the terms of the contract or the circumstances of the case...." It was suggested before that "clearly demonstrated" would be an improvement on "demonstrated with reasonable certainty" - see Neels and Fredericks 2004 1 EUREDIA Revue européenne de droit bancaire et financier / European Banking and Financial Law Journal 173 179. See art 2, second sentence of the 1955 Hague Convention; art 116(2) of the Swiss Private International Law Act "Die Rechtswahl muss ausdrücklich sein oder sich eindeutig aus dem Vertrag oder aus den Umständen ergeben art 3540 of the Louisiana Civil Code of 1991: "All other issues of conventional obligations are governed by the law expressly chosen or clearly relied upon by the parties ..."; and art 3111 of the Quebec Civil Code.
24 Art 1210(2): "An agreement of parties as to the selection of law to be applicable shall be expressly stated or clearly ensue from the terms and conditions of the contract or the complex of circumstances of the case" (translation in 2002 Yearbook of Private International Law 349).
25 Art 7: "The contract shall be governed by the law chosen by the parties. The parties' agreement on selection must be express or, in the event that there is no express agreement, must be evident from the parties' behavior and from the clauses of the contract, considered as a whole ...".
26 Art 1(1): "The law chosen by the parties shall govern the contract art 1(2): "The choice of law must be express or must appear clearly from any indications in the contract or from the behaviour of the parties."
27 Neels and Fredericks 2004 1 EUREDIA Revue européenne de droit bancaire et financier / European Banking and Financial Law Journal 173 179.
28 Art 3(1).
29 Art 7(1).
30 S 7.
31 Art 34.
32 Art 3(1).
33 See eg Nygh Autonomy in International Contracts (1999) 113-20.
34 Art 2 of the 1955 Hague Convention; sec 7 of the Orgeon Conflicts Law Applicable to Contracts, art 3111 of the Quebec Civil Code.
35 The Mexico City Convention uses the term "clauses of the contract" in art 7 but this limits the sources to a written contract. The ICC Draft Recommendation on the Law Applicable to International Contracts refers to "any indications in the contract" (art 1 (2)).
36 Art 7(1) of the 1986 Hague Convention; art 1(2) of the ICC Draft Recommendation on the Law Applicable to International Contracts; art 7 of the Mexico City Convention; art 34 of the Puerto Rico Projet.
37 Art 3(1) of the Rome Convention; art 3(1) of the Rome I Regulation; art 24(1) of the Turkish Private International Law Act; art 25(1) of the South Korean Private International Law Act art 1210(2) of the Russian Civil Code; art 116 of the Swiss Private International Law Act.
38 Contra art 7(1) of the 1986 Hague Convention and art 7 of the Mexico City Convention where the word "and" is employed.
39 Art 7(1) of the 1986 Hague Convention.
40 Art 7 of the Mexico City Convention.
41 Art 7.
42 Art 2.
43 See Sykes and Pryles 116.
44 Groupe européen de droit international privé or the European Group for Private International Law (EGPIL): see http://www.gedip-egpil.eu/.
45 GEDIP "Third consolidated version of a proposal to amend articles 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10bis, 12 and 13 of the Rome Convention of 19 June 1980 on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations, and article 15 of Regulation 44/ 2001/EC (Brussels I)" (Vienna, 2003) http://www.gedip-egpil.eu/documents/gedip-documents-20vce.html: "In particular, the choice of a court or the courts of a given State shall not in itself be equivalent to a choice of the law of that State." Contra the traditional common-law position: see eg Collins 1575-76; See Nygh 116-18.
46 See the last sentence of s 7(2): "In a standard-form contract drafted primarily by only one of the parties, any choice of law must be express and conspicuous."
47 As was done in eg art 15 of the Rome Convention, art 15 of the 1986 Hague Convention, art 17 of the Mexico City Convention and art 20 of the Rome I Regulation.
48 See art 2, first sentence: "La vente est régie par la loi interne du pays désigné par les parties contractantes" (own italics).
49 Ie not via incorporation by reference in terms of the proper law of the contract.
50 See for support of this view eg Neels and Fredericks 2004 1 EUREDIA Revue européenne de droit bancaire et financier / European Banking and Financial Law Journal 173 1 75-79.
51 Idem 178-79. The formulation is sufficiently wide as to include the choice of a religious or indigenous legal system.
52 The accepted version was edited by the current authors by substituting "thereof" for "of the choice" and by deleting a second "must" before the word "appear".