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Global Commercial Law between Unity, Pluralism, and Competition: The Case of the CISG


  • Gralf-Peter Calliess

    (University of Bremen - Faculty of Law)

  • Insa Buchmann

    (Max Planck Institute for European Legal History)


The global legal system consists of a multitude of legal regimes of various origin, thus constituting a regulatory framework which is significantly different from the one of a nation state. In the absence of a world state, international and supranational law regimes, various domestic legal systems, and transnational law regimes such as the lex mercatoria each claim normative authority in the global sphere, which inevitably overlap and interfere in some issue areas. Not surprisingly, this messy state has attracted some attention among legal theory scholars, stimulating various different lines of thought on how global law is actually structured and which organizing principles ought to be in operation. In this paper we identify unity, pluralism, and competition as three paradigms, which qualify in particular to guide our discourse on the structure and the organizing principles of global law. Since theoretical debates tend to remain quite abstract and vague, if not opaque, we decided to flesh out the differences and commonalities between the approaches by applying the three paradigms to the concrete field of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) as a cornerstone of global commercial law. This brings together up to now more or less separate theoretical and dogmatic discourses in a fruitful cross-disciplinary way. As a result, we plea for a paradigmatic pluralism, meaning that global law should not be constructed according to one single organizing principle only. This paper serves as an introduction to three in-depth papers, which each explore the issue from the perspective of one paradigm. Altogether they will publish in a focus issue of the Uniform Law Review in 2016.

Suggested Citation

  • Gralf-Peter Calliess & Insa Buchmann, 2016. "Global Commercial Law between Unity, Pluralism, and Competition: The Case of the CISG," ZenTra Working Papers in Transnational Studies 63 / 2016, ZenTra - Center for Transnational Studies, revised Feb 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:zen:wpaper:63

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    Transnational law market‚paradigms of global law; international sales law; the CISG; international trade; cross-border contracts; transnational law; international uniform law; harmonization of law; regulatory competition; legal pluralism.;

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law
    • K20 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - General
    • K33 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - International Law
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • K49 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Other
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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