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The Nature or Natures of Agreements on Choice of Court and Choice of Law

March 2, 2016 - 11:30-12:30 Eastern

To judge from judicial decisions over the last 20 years, the English common law version of private international law has come to treat agreements on choice of court as contractual agreements that will be enforced in almost exactly the same way as any other bilateral contractual agreement. This had led the courts to some conclusions, particularly in the context of remedies against breach, which look surprising as features in the landscape of private international law. But this narrow contractual focus, which takes it for granted that agreements on choice of court are promissory terms of a contract, liable to be enforced as such, has blinded lawyers to the possibility of viewing them as (multiple) unilateral notices. But Regulation (EU)1215/2012, otherwise known as the Brussels I Regulation, provides the basis for one alternative understanding of what is involved in making an agreement on choice of court. When it comes to (agreements on) choice of law, the English courts have managed to avoid having to decide whether such terms in a contract are promissory in nature. The idea that they may be non-promissory terms has yet to be worked through; but it may provide a more satisfactory basis for providing answers than the alternative, that they are promissory terms. The aim of the discussion will therefore be to consider the nature or natures of agreements on choice of court and on choice of law.