Article: Muir Watt on Economics of Adjudication and Int’l Arbitration


In an article forthcoming in the French Revue de l’arbitrage, Horatia Muir Watt (Paris I University) explores further the economics of adjudication and wonders what the implications of the lead taken by international arbitration are for the governance of the global economy.

The article is in French. Its title is Economie de la justice et arbitrage international (réflexions sur la gouvernance privée dans la globalisation). The English abstract reads:

Arbitration has conquered a dominant part of the global market for dispute resolution in the field of international commerce, where it is now widely held to be a preferable alternative to adjudication before State courts. Indeed, it may be observed that access to the latter is being privatized in international litigation through the generalisation of choice of forum clauses, while the commercial courts of the more competitive national systems tend in turn to behave like private umpires. This article looks at the consequences of this contractualisation of adjudication for the governance of the global economy. In the light of the distinction set out three decades ago by the first analyses of the economics of adjudication, between the regulatory function of the courts (whether through precedent or other modes of creating case-law), seen as a public good provided by the collectivity, and the mere adjustment of private interests, which might legitimately be financed by the parties to the dispute, the transfer of international commercial adjudication to the private sector is synomynous with private appropriation of the regulatory function of of the courts, of which States are progressively divested. This transformation of international commercial adjudication into a private good, subject to a global market, is an invitation to think about normativity through the de-centered lens of legal pluralism, rather than from an exclusively State-centered perspective. On a more practical level, it should also lead to redesign the offer of private justice, so as to adapt its content to the regulatory function it is now called upon to perform 

To my knowledge, articles of the Revue de l’arbitrage cannot be downloaded.