Confidentiality in a Forum of Last Resort: Is the Use of Confidential Arbitration a Good Idea for Business and Society – Vol. 16 No. 3-4

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Author: Anjanette H. Raymond*

Published: July 2007

Commercial Disputes
Lex Mercatoria
International Institutions and Rules



International commercial law has at its heart the traditions of the lex mercatoria. Emerging in the Middle Ages, the lex mercatoria is based on a trade system where merchants would travel with their goods to fairs and markets across Europe. Their disputes would be resolved in special local courts where fellow merchants would take the role of judge and jury. These “Merchant Courts” used established custom, created out of the merchants’ own needs and views, as the foundation of regulation, often shunning the legal technicalities of local law.5 It is in this way that the lex mercatoria developed outside the common law, deriving its authority from the voluntary acceptance by the merchants.

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*Lecturer in International Commercial Law, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary, University of London. The author would like to thank Dr. Loukas Mistelis who undertook, with great patience, the review of numerous drafts. I am indebted to him for his invaluable feedback and encouragement.