Contemplating a Civil Law Paradigm for a Future International Commercial Code Academic Article uri icon


  • The international community has worked toward a global law of contracts for the last century. These efforts include the Uniform Law on the International Sale of Goods, the Uniform Law on the Formation of Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts, the Principles of European Contract Law, and the Vienna Convention for the International Sales of Goods (CISG). These texts are all tremendous achievements in their own right. However, they reflect a delicate juxtaposition of the two primary legal systems of the world --- the civil law and the common law. A consequence of this tension has been that the texts are full of compromises between the two systems. This article seeks to determine, between the two great and dominant legal systems of the world --- the common law and the civil law --- which of the two is more workable and efficacious in implementing any future effort at such a sophisticated system of international contracts law. I believe that the civil law may prove a more pragmatic and politically expedient solution to this dilemma, for the following reasons: (1) the civil law would be more distinctly unifying of the international law of contracts, (2) the civil law would minimize the surrender of nations sovereignty to an international regime of contract law, primarily by promulgating a comprehensive code and eliminating stare decisis, (3) the characteristics of the international contract law in excess of one thousand years old, and simultaneously a new supranational regime in the embryonic stages are such that codification is especially appropriate for immediate implementation of any such regime, (4) common law jurisdictions have evidenced increasing amenability to codification of existing law and have also revealed an observable trend away from strict adherence to stare decisis, whereas there is no discernible converse trend in civilian jurisdictions and (5) other considerations including the sheer population numbers which weigh in favor of the civil law point toward implementing a civilian international contracts code as the logical and pragmatic solution.

published proceedings

  • Louisiana Law Review

author list (cited authors)

  • Barnes, W. R.

complete list of authors

  • Barnes, Wayne R

publication date

  • January 2005