Book launch: Brooke Marshall, ‘Asymmetric Jurisdiction Clauses’

On behalf of our former editor Brooke Marshall, we are happy to share the invitation to the UNSW Law & Justice Book Forum, which will host the launch of her book on Asymmetric Jurisdiction Clauses.

The event will feature the following speakers:

  • Professor Mary Keyes, Director of the Law Futures Centre; Professor, Griffith Law School, Griffith University
  • Professor Caroline Kleiner, Professor, Centre for Business Law and Management (CEDAG), Faculty of Law, Université Paris Cité, Paris, France
  • Chaired by Professor Justine Nolan, Director, Australian Human Rights Institute; Professor, UNSW Faculty of Law & Justice

It will take place in a hybrid setting on Wednesday, 5 July, at 4:30pm AEST = 8:30am CEST = 7:30am BST. You may register using this link.

U.S. Supreme Court Renders Personal Jurisdiction Decision

This post is by Maggie Gardner, a professor of law at Cornell Law School. It is cross-posted at Transnational Litigation Blog.

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday upheld the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s corporate registration statute, even though it requires out-of-state corporations registering to do business within the state to consent to all-purpose (general) personal jurisdiction. The result in Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. re-opens the door to suing foreign companies in U.S. courts over disputes that arise in other countries. It may also have significant repercussions for personal jurisdiction doctrine more broadly.

The Case

Robert Mallory worked for Norfolk Southern for nearly twenty years in Ohio and Virginia. He has since been diagnosed with cancer, which he alleges was caused by the hazardous materials to which he was exposed while in Norfolk Southern’s employ. Although he currently lives in Virginia, he sued Norfolk Southern (a company then incorporated and based in Virginia) in state court in Pennsylvania, asserting claims under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA).

Norfolk Southern contested personal jurisdiction. But Mallory argued that by registering to do business in Pennsylvania, it had agreed to appear in Pennsylvania courts on any cause of action. While the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed with that interpretation of Pennsylvania’s corporate registration statute, it held that the statute violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in light of the Supreme Court’s caselaw since International Shoe Co. v. Washington (1945).

The Holding

A majority of the Supreme Court disagreed. Justice Alito joined Justice Gorsuch’s plurality (with Justices Thomas, Sotomayor, and Jackson) to hold that the question was controlled by a pre-International Shoe decision, Pennsylvania Fire Ins. Co. v. Gold Issue Mining & Milling Co. (1917). Pennsylvania Fire approved a Missouri statute that required out-of-state insurance companies to appoint a state official as an agent for service of process for any suit. In Pennsylvania Fire, that Missouri statute was invoked to establish jurisdiction over a Pennsylvania insurance company regarding a contract formed in Colorado to insure a Colorado facility owned by an Arizona company. The five Justices agreed that the Supreme Court has never overruled Pennsylvania Fire and that it thus controls this case.

There is another, broader point on which the five Justices also seem to agree: Pennsylvania Fire does not conflict with International Shoe because International Shoe only addressed jurisdiction over non-consenting defendants. As Alito put it, “Consent is a separate basis for personal jurisdiction”—or as Gorsuch put it, “International Shoe simply provided a ‘novel’ way to secure personal jurisdiction that did nothing to displace other ‘traditional ones.’” An entirely separate avenue for establishing personal jurisdiction exists outside of International Shoe’s framework, which includes (according to the plurality) “[f]ailing to comply with certain pre-trial court orders, signing a contract with a forum selection clause, accepting an in-state benefit with jurisdictional strings attached,” or making a general appearance. And in this consent-based track, the five Justices also seem to agree that federalism concerns are no longer applicable.

Points of Disagreement

Alito wrote separately, however, to argue that Pennsylvania’s statute runs afoul of the dormant Commerce Clause. Even if the statute didn’t discriminate against out-of-state businesses, Alito explained, it significantly burdens interstate commerce, and it does so without any legitimate local interest. While a state “certainly has a legitimate interest in regulating activities conducted within its borders,” and while it “also may have an interest ‘in providing its residents with a convenient forum for redressing injuries inflicted by out-of-state actors,’” a state “generally does not have a legitimate local interest in vindicating the rights of non-residents harmed by out-of-state actors through conduct outside the State.”

It is not particularly surprising that Alito was alone in elaborating this dormant Commerce Clause concern, given the split opinions earlier this Term in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross. As I discussed in a preview of the Mallory decision, Gorsuch and Thomas in that case found the balancing approach required by the dormant Commerce Clause jurisprudence to simply be infeasible. (Perhaps Alito hoped he might win them over if he could establish a complete lack of legitimate local interest, which would obviate the need for balancing). And if Sotomayor was unconvinced by the plaintiffs’ showing of a substantial burden on interstate commerce in National Pork Producers, she was unlikely to sign onto Alito’s rather vague paragraph about how statutes like Pennsylvania’s could burden small companies.

But why did Alito not join more of the plurality opinion? The plurality embraced a framing of the case that emphasized Norfolk Southern’s significant and permanent presence in Pennsylvania, including its 5,000 employees, 2,400 miles of track, and three locomotive shops (including the largest in North America). That framing is reminiscent of Sotomayor’s emphasis on fairness in her prior personal jurisdiction writings, as well as her questions at oral argument last fall. The plurality opinion also begins by contrasting this case with Mallory’s ability to “tag” an individual employee of Norfolk Southern in Pennsylvania, asking why Mallory shouldn’t be able to assert personal jurisdiction as easily over Norfolk Southern itself. That framing recapitulates a key point in Gorsuch’s concurrence in Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court (2021).

But neither of those framings resonates with Alito’s prior writings, to say the least. He tends to be more skeptical of litigation and court access policies, and he notably did not join Gorsuch’s concurrence in Ford. Further, both framings would have undermined Alito’s argument that Pennsylvania lacked any legitimate local interest in this case.

Jackson also wrote a brief concurrence that emphasized that personal jurisdiction is a waivable right, focusing on the Court’s opinion in Insurance Corp. of Ireland v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee (1982). Her invocation of “waiver” rather than “consent” was clearly purposeful (and a distinction that Robin Effron and John Coyle have recently explored).

The Dissent

Justice Barrett’s dissent (joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kagan and Kavanaugh) staunchly defended the International Shoe paradigm. “For 75 years,” it begins, “we have held that the Due Process Clause does not allow state courts to assert general jurisdiction over [out-of-state] defendants merely because they do business in the State.” The Court’s decision in Mallory, Barrett explains, invites states to evade International Shoe’s limits on personal jurisdiction by simply rewording their long-arm statutes to include implied consent. Indeed (she notes), this case is remarkably like BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell (2017), another FELA suit involving out-of-state parties and a cause of action that arose out of state as well. In Tyrell, the Court rejected the state’s assertion of personal jurisdiction in light of the Court’s recent decisions in Daimler AG v. Bauman (2014) and Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown (2011). Approving Pennsylvania’s statute effectively robs all three of those precedents of meaning.

Foreign Defendants in U.S. Courts

The dissent is at least right about the practical implications of the Court’s holding: states that are inclined to do so now have a roadmap for evading the limits on general personal jurisdiction that the Court staked out in Goodyear, Daimler, and BNSF. While the mere fact of doing business is still not enough to subject a “non-consenting” business to jurisdiction in a forum, the mere fact of doing business plus a broadly worded statute might be. Indeed, it’s possible that Sotomayor joined the majority precisely because of her consistent concern that the Roberts Court has gone too far in paring back both general and specific jurisdiction under International Shoe. As the lone justice who refused to join the Court’s opinion in Daimler, she has now helped reclaim some of that state power.

Daimler, itself a case involving a foreign defendant, made it much harder for plaintiffs to hale non-U.S. companies into U.S. courts. After Daimler, plaintiffs have had to establish specific jurisdiction over foreign defendants, which can be hard to do even when the plaintiff resides in the U.S. forum and was injured there, as in J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro (2011). Mallory gives states a different avenue for protecting their citizens’ ability to sue foreign defendants. As the plurality asserts, “all International Shoe did was stake out an additional road to jurisdiction over out-of-state corporations,” separate from the consent-based road upon which states can now rely.

It will be interesting to see how many states take up this invitation. My prediction is that we will see few open-ended statutes like Pennsylvania’s, but that we will see some more tailored statutes, for example asserting all-purpose jurisdiction over any claims brought by in-state residents against companies doing business in the state.

Broader Implications for Personal Jurisdiction Doctrine

It will also be interesting to see how much of a sea change Mallory makes in personal jurisdiction doctrine more broadly. While the holding may appear narrow, five Justices have agreed to limit the ambit of International Shoe’s paradigm to non-consenting defendants—a rather significant restriction. And given how broadly the Court construes “consent” in the age of forum selection clauses and compelled arbitration (and now corporate registration statutes), that could render International Shoe largely obsolete.

The approach of the plurality may also signal that there is more to come. Gorsuch’s opinion focuses on history and tradition and encourages reliance on pre-International Shoe cases. He has found a way to wind back the clock without having to directly overrule International Shoe—but would a future case encourage these Justices to wind back the clock even further?

I do worry that Gorsuch and his like-minded colleagues are too sanguine about the challenges that a return to broad general jurisdiction would entail. As I have written with others, there are real systemic costs to a paradigm of general jurisdiction—precisely the costs that International Shoe was written to address. A fundamental flaw in the plurality’s approach is its syllogism that because the Court approved tag jurisdiction over individuals in Burnham v. Superior Court (1990), it should also continue to recognize broad general jurisdiction over corporations. First, Burnham was a splintered decision, and a majority of the Justices did not agree that tag jurisdiction was completely unmoored from International Shoe’s framework. But second, why isn’t Burnham itself the mistake? Why not level up the protections for individual defendants, requiring some connection between the forum, the dispute, and the defendant greater than the defendant’s fleeting physical presence?


I have started wondering if the binary distinction between general and specific jurisdiction might have outlived its usefulness as a legal construct. Perhaps registration statutes and tag jurisdiction (and some modified forum of doing business jurisdiction?) belong in an intermediate category—but one that must still satisfy International Shoe’s overarching command that the defendant have minimum contacts with the forum such that notions of fair play and substantial justice will not be offended.

The New Saudi Civil Transaction Act and its Potential Impact on Private International Law in Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has recently enacted a new Civil Transactions Law (Royal Decree No. M/199, dated June 16, 2023). The law will enter into force on December 16, 2023, 180 days after its enactment (hereinafter referred to as “the new law”). This law has been rightly described as “groundbreaking” because, prior to the enactment of the new law, there has been no codification of civil law in the Kingdom, and civil law issues have traditionally been governed by the classical rules of Islamic Sharia according to the teachings of the prevailing school of fiqh (religio-legal jurisprudence) in the Kingdom (Hanbali School). Like most of the civil law codifications in the region, the new law focuses mainly on the so-called “patrimonial law,” i.e., property rights and obligations (contractual and non-contractual). Family relations and successions are dealt with in a separate law, which was previously enacted in 2022 and entered into force the same year (Personal Status Act, Royal Decree No. M/73 of 9 March 2022, entered into force on June 18, 2022).

From a private international law perspective, one particular aspect of the new law compared to other civil law codifications in the region is that, unlike most of the Arab civil law codifications, the new law does not contain rules on the choice of the applicable law. In other neighboring countries (namely Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Qatar, Oman, and Yemen) as well as in other Arab jurisdictions (including Libya and Algeria), the civil law codifications include at the beginning of their respective Civil Code/Civil Transactions Act a chapter dealing with the “application of the law in space”. These choice-of-law codifications generally contain provisions on characterization, choice of law in family law and succession, property, contractual and non-contractual obligations, and some general rules such as renvoi (or its prohibition) and public policy, etc. Only a few Arab states have chosen to codify choice-of-law rules outside of their Civil Code (Kuwait and Bahrain) or Code of Obligations and Contracts (Morocco and Tunisia). Lebanon is the only country where choice-of-law principles have been developed mainly through case law. Thus, Saudi Arabia remains the only Arab jurisdiction where conflict of laws rules are almost non-existent and where the courts have not been able to develop a body of principles dealing with choice-of-law issues. This is because, in general, Saudi courts apply Saudi law when they assume jurisdiction, regardless of whether or not the dispute has a connection with another legal system or not. Whether there will be a codification of choice-of-law rules in the same way that rules on international jurisdiction and enforcement of foreign judgments have been codified remains to be seen.


Interestingly, however, the new law may affect the assessment of public policy in the context of the enforcement of foreign judgments. Indeed, based on the traditional Sharia rules and principles recognized in the Kingdom, Saudi courts have often relied on public policy and inconsistency with Sharia to refuse enforcement of foreign judgments. For example, in a case decided in 1996, the Saudi court refused to enforce a Dubai judgment on the ground that the said judgment allowed for compensation for lost profits and payment of moral damages (Board of Grievances, Case No. 1783/1/Q of 30/12/1417 Hegira [November 12, 1996]). The court cited Sharia rules and principles on compensation, according to which only real and quantifiable losses can be compensated. The new law departed from this traditional principle by clearly allowing compensation for both lost profits (article 137) and moral damages (article 138). Therefore, the traditional position of the Saudi court is no longer tenable under the new rules, as compensation for lost profits and moral damages are now available under the newly adopted rules.


Another important issue concerns interest. It is well known that the payment of interest is prohibited under Sharia rules and principles. Saudi courts have been particularly eager to refuse enforcement of those parts of the foreign judgments that order the payment of interest, including legal interest available under the laws of other Arab and Islamic states (see, for example, Board of Grievances, Case No. 2114/Q of 21/8/1436 Hegira [June 9, 2015] refusing enforcement of legal interests ordered by Bahraini courts but allowed partial enforcement of the main award). However, unlike lost of profits and moral damages, the new law’s position on interest is less clear. Several indicators in the new law suggest that the legislature did not wish to depart from the traditionally prevailing position. For example, the prohibition on agreeing to repay amounts that “exceed” the capital in loan agreements, either at the time of the conclusion of the agreement or at the time of the deferment of payment, is clearly stated in article 385 of the new law. Moreover, article 1 of the new law clearly refers to the “rules [al-ahkam] derived from the Islamic Sharia which are most consistent with the present law” as the source of law in the absence of an applicable provision of the new law or a rule of general principles contained in its last chapter. Accordingly, it can be expected that Saudi courts will continue to refuse to enforce the portion of the foreign judgments awarding interests on the ground of public policy and the inconsistency of interests with the principles of the Sharia as understood in the Kingdom.


Book Review: The UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights

This book review was written by Begüm Kilimcioglu, PhD researcher, Research Groups Law & Development and Personal Rights & Property Rights, University of Antwerp

Barnali Choudbury, The UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights- A Commentary, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2023

The endorsement of the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) in 2011 represents a milestone for business and human rights as the principles successfully achieved to put the duties of different actors involved in (possible) human rights abuses on the international agenda. The UNGPs provide a non-binding yet authoritative framework for a three-pillared scheme to identify and contextualize the responsibilities with regard to business and human rights: the State’s responsibility to protect, businesses’ responsibility to respect, and facilitating access to remedy. However, although the impact of the principles can be described as ground-breaking, they have also been criticized for their vague and generic language which provides for a leeway for certain actors to circumvent their responsibilities (see Andreas Rasche & Sandra Waddock, Surya Deva, Florian Wettstein).Therefore, it is important to determine and clarify the content of the principles to increase their efficiency and effectiveness. In this light, this commentary on the UNGPs which examines all the principles one-by-one through the inputs of various prominent scholars, academics, experts and practitioners is indeed a reference guide to when working on corporate social responsibility.

The UNGPs and private international law are inherently linked. UNGPs aim to address issues regarding human rights abuses and environmental degradation which are ultimately transnational. Therefore, every time we talk about the extraterritorial obligations of the States, or the private remedies attached to cross-border human rights violations, we have to talk within the framework of private international law. For instance, in a case where a multinational company headquartered in the Global North causes damage through its subsidiaries or suppliers located in the Global North, the contractual clauses regarding their respective obligations or the private remedies in their contracts brings the questions of which law is applicable or how to enforce such mechanisms. Furthermore, in cases where the violations are brought before a court, it is inevitable that the court will have to decide on which law to be applied to the conflict at hand. In this regard, although the commentary does not go into detail about conflict of laws/ private international law issues, we know that the implementation of the UNGPs requires the consideration of private international law rules.

The commentary consists of two parts; the first part is dedicated to the UNGPs, and the second part focuses on the Principles for Responsible Contracts (PRCs) which is an integral addition to the UNGPs.

The first part starts with the UNGPs’ first pillar, the State’s duty to protect in context. The authors Larry Cata Backer and Humberto Cantu Rivera (UNGPs 4&5) emphasize the centrality of the State as an actor in many interactions when it engages in various commercial transactions and the privatization of essential services. Such instances pose a unique opportunity for the State to exercise its influence over businesses, service providers, or investors to facilitate respect for human rights and to fulfill its duty to protect human rights. Furthermore, as Olga Martin-Ortega and Fatimazahra Dehbi highlights (UNGP 7) when a company is operating in a conflict zone, the States that are involved must engage effectively with the situation to protect human rights considering the heightened vulnerability. Overall, actions of privatization or other commercial transactions do not exempt the State from its own duties. On the contrary, the State has heightened duties to ensure and support respect for human rights through various means such as its legislation, policies, agencies or through (effective) membership of multilateral institutions or its contracts.

Moving onto the second pillar, the business’ responsibility to respect, Sara L. Seck emphasizes                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               that this responsibility is not framed as a duty—like the State duty to protect but rather is a more flexible term—and is independent of the State. However, more regard could have been given to common situations such as where the lines between the States and the businesses are blurred. I do not mean here the situations where the business enterprises are fully or partially owned by the State but rather – de facto—the businesses have more power (both in economic and political terms) on the ground. More examples could have been given such as how the revenues of Shell exceed the GDP’s of Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa and Mexico. In the increasingly globalized and competitive world of today, the (possible) role of businesses changes rapidly. Conversely, the disconnect between the policies, statements, and pledges businesses make with respect to human rights and their actual performance has been identified and highlighted quite accurately. The analysis of the lack of incentives for businesses to respect and engage with human rights by Kishanthi Parella (UNGP 13) provides an excellent mirror to the situation on the ground. It is rightfully identified that although the pressure from the consumers, investors, and/or other stakeholders can incentivize companies to do better, it may be insufficient. For instance, although Shell has been criticized by civil society, affected stakeholders, and the public for over a decade, and has faced several high-profile cases, the change beyond its corporate policies and documents remains highly contested.

Naturally, this brings to the fore the importance of having legally binding, national, regional, and international, rules putting concrete obligations with strong enforcement mechanisms to force companies to do better and create a level playing field for the ones who already are genuinely engaged in human rights issues. Maddelena Neglia discusses the different mandatory legislations initiatives from different countries regarding the implementation of the UNGPs, and Claire Bright and Celine Graca da Pires examine the same initiatives through the lens of Human Rights Due Diligence processes.

However, as the analysis of the current transparency frameworks within the framework of UNGP 13, considering that there are already legally binding rules on non-financial information disclosure, foreshadows the possible outcomes of future legally binding rules, such as the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (See also the last documents, the Council position and the Parliament position.) The commentary does not discuss the positions adopted by the Council and the Parliament as they were not yet adopted at the time the commentary was written). The current transparency laws show that unless such rules have teeth, they are bound to be ineffective.

Of course, the efforts of the States and businesses must be accompanied by strong and effective both State-based and non-State based and judicial and non-judicial remedies for the victims of corporate harm. On this matter, the commentary highlights the mechanisms that we are more prone to forgetting, such as the national human rights institutions (NHRIs) or multistakeholder initiatives (MSIs). It is usually the case that when thinking about remedies, the first thing that comes to mind are State-based judicial remedies. However, as Jennifer A. Zerk and Martijn Scheltema remind us there are several different types of remedies which can even be more effective depending on the context. Furthermore, on an academic level, we tend to focus more on Platon’s ‘theory on forms/ideas’ rather than how things work in practice. As a result of this disconnection between the academics and the victims, we also tend to forget to discuss whether the ‘form/idea’ complies with the reality on the ground. Therefore, the emphasis in the commentary on the (obvious) link between the remedies and the persons for whom these remedies are intended reminds us that remedies must be stakeholder centric.

Overall, the commentary points out several important issues about the UNGPs:

  • The uncertainty surrounding the UNGPs is real—although this was an intentional choice by Professor Ruggie, considering the current frameworks and how far we have come in the business & human rights world, we should not religiously hold onto the UNGPs but rather search for ways to improve and build upon them. UNGPs indeed were a marvelous achievement at the time, in 2011, when it was even unthinkable for most people that businesses could have any kind of responsibility regarding human rights; yet a worldwide consensus was reached. However, now, there is an enormous momentum to genuinely address corporate disasters through better regulation and enforcement.
  • Another important prong in this process still is the international treaty. The commentary does not go into much detail about the Legally Binding Instrument on Business and Human Rights (Penelope Simmons discusses the international treaty within the framework of UNGP 26 as a way to strengthen access to remedy and Barnali Choudhury proposes the international treaty as a way to tackle the remaining problems with the implementation of the UNGPS and the PRCs), however I do believe that the international treaty must also be discussed as an option to better implement the UNGPs. The drafting process of the treaty is evidence of one of many problems with the implementation of the UNGPs. As Daniel Augenstein (UNGP 1), Gamze Erdem Turkelli (UNGP 10) and Dalia Palombo (UNGP 25) point out, international cooperation is very important to effectively address the multi-faceted and transnational problem of respecting and protecting human rights and facilitating remedy when human rights abuses occur within the context of corporate harm. They show that no sole State can fix such a problem, and cooperation between States is essential. This cooperation can be done through could be done by engaging with other States in cases of corporate harm and exchanging information (or making it easy to exchange information) between authorities and courts, or information, as we increasingly see in private international law instruments. However, when we look at the process of drafting such a treaty which would provide common frameworks and rules to do so, it is clear that there is reluctance of the Global North countries whereas the recipient countries of damage are naturally much more enthusiastic.
  • The second part of the commentary concerns the Principles for Responsible Contracts which provide guidance for the preparation, management and monitoring of Investor-State (investment) contracts, together with options for access to remedy for the (possible) victims. The PRCs reflect the same principles as the UNGPs and they are supposed to be read in conjunction.

The focus on the PRCs is valuable because historically international investment law and international human rights law were seen as two separate fields of law with no intersection. However, today, as the understanding of human rights is significantly evolving, the link between investments and human rights is becoming all the more evident. Investments – in all sectors but especially the extractive sector- can adversely impact to a significant extend, environmental degradation and human rights, lives of local and indigenous communities and marginalized and vulnerable groups. Rightly so, as the first part of the commentary on UNGPs, the second part, especially within the scope of PRC 7, Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye and Solina Kennedy highlight the importance of meaningful stakeholder engagement with the (potentially) affected stakeholders and the ways to design more inclusive community involvement strategies.

Secondly, PRCs is a great opportunity to provide guidance to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the contractual clauses used in investment contracts. Contractual clauses are the most widely used tools among businesses to pledge and ensure human rights compliance in their activities (see p 63). However, the effectiveness of these clauses is rather limited. Therefore, this wide use must be seen as an advantage and be built upon. In other words, the clauses must be structured in such a way that they do not leave unnecessary wiggle room for the companies and successfully cover the governance gaps.

Lastly, the importance of human rights impact assessments by investors before, during and after a project is a common narrative through the part on the PRCs. This emphasis is important as we are on the verge of adopting hard laws on human rights due diligence that may successfully enforce companies to be more engaging, robust and effective when they address human rights concerns. It has to be borne in mind that investors are also businesses enterprises, and they also must conduct their own Human Rights Due Diligence regarding their projects. In this regard, it is sometimes even the case that investors have more adverse impacts than other types of business actors because of their indirect impact via the projects they finance. Thus, the engagement of the investors with human rights is crucial for effective human rights protection.

Overall, the commentary is a must-have for everyone who is working on business and human rights. The UNGPs constitute the base of all the work that has been done over the years in the field. Thus, to be able to comprehend what business and human rights mean and to build on them, it is essential to examine the UNGPs in detail, which is what the commentary provides.

XVI Conference of the American Association of Private International Law


The American Association of Private International Law – ASADIP is pleased to announce that the registrations for its annual event are now open. The XVI ASADIP Conferences: “Private international law between the innovation and the disruption” will take place on August 10-11, 2023 in the city of Rio de Janeiro, at the premises of PUC Rio and University of State of Rio de Janeiro – Uerj.

The ASADIP invites all PIL scholars and community to be able to attend the event and meet again in person this exceptional year in Rio. The XVI Conferences will cover special topics on PIL and international organizations – Organization of American States-OAS, Mercosur, the HCCH, Uncitral, Unidroit; perspectives on PIL, gender and sustainable development; PIL legislative trends and (re)codification; international legal cooperation and new technologies, procedural conventionsand cross-border family affairs, amongst others.

In addition, as a warm-up PIL initiative to engage PIL scholars, travellers and friends coming to Rio, the Brazilian Research Network on Private International Law, the Latin American Network of International Civil Procedural Law, the Open Latin American Chair of Private International Law and ASADIP  will jointly convene a preparatory meeting – the IV Workshop on Research Strategies for Private International Law.

The Workshop will be generously hosted by PUC Rio on August 9, 2023, and is coordinated by Professors Nadia de Araujo (PUC Rio), Fabricio Polido (University of Minas Gerais – UFMG); Valesca Borges (University of Espírito Santo – UFES) and Inez Lopes (University of Brasilia – UnB).

A Call for Papers has been launched and is currently available on ASADIP´s website and social media. PIL scholars are invited to submit their draft proposals for the Workshop and special meeting of the PIL research networks and projects active in ASADIP region and overseas. Papers and abstracts in English, Portuguese or Spanish are accepted and may be submitted in line with one of the thematic sessions of the Workshop to the e-mail: 4workshop.dipr.pucrio2023@gmail.com.  For further information and instructions, participants can follow the updates on relevant submission and feedback deadlines (end of June to mid-July) on ASADIP social media.

The opportunity presented by those activities under the auspices of ASADIP and the gathering of specialists of the highest level from all continents is once again unique. We encourage you to participate.

Relevant links and repercussions on media:


– Call for Papers –

The Brazilian Research Network on Private International Law (“Brazilian PIL-RN”), an initiative of the Inter-institutional Research Group “Private International Law in Brazil and International Fora” (CNPq/DGP), the Latin American Network of International Civil Procedural Law, the Open Latin American Chair of Private International Law and the American Association of Private International Law – ASADIP – will jointly host the IV Workshop on Research Strategies for Private International Law on August 9, 2023, on the occasion of the awaited XVI ASADIP Conference 2023 (“PIL between the Innovation and the Disruption”) in Rio de Janeiro.

PUC Rio will be our host institution for the IV Workshop on Research Strategies in PIL, in this edition structured in two main clusters:

  1. Joint Meeting of PIL Research Groups and Networks in Brazil, ASADIP Region and global partners
  2. Thematic panels on IPR research with presentation of scientific papers in Working Groups on PIL and Emerging Issues
  • WG I: Sustainable Development Goals-SDGs and Private International Law
  • WG II: Dialogues between PIL, International Law and International Trade
  • WG III – Migrations, human rights and private international law
  • WG IV – PIL between data flow, artificial intelligence and new technologies
  • WG V – Current developments on International legal cooperation

This Call for Papers invites participants and specialists to submit proposals – articles/papers, expanded abstracts (for Master and Doctoral candidates) and posters (Undergraduate students) for the presentation of scientific pieces at the IV Workshop on PIL Research Strategies. It is open to submissions of unpublished/ongoing works by faculty professors, investigators, as well postgraduate and undergraduate students, on topics of interest for the research agenda of Private International Law, its strategies and potential impacts on society, local/regional spaces, and international organizations. Proposals may be submitted in any of the three official languages for ASADIP: Spanish, English and Portuguese.

A such warm-up academic initiative is a part of the main proceedings of the XVI ASADIP Conference2023 “PIL between Innovation and the Disruption”,which will take place between 10-11 August 2023 in Rio de Janeiro (PUC Rio and University of Estado do Rio de Janeiro – UERJ).

Highlight on relevant deadlines:
  • 06/28/2023 – 1st deadline for submission of proposals
  • 05/07/2023 – 2nd deadline for submission of proposals
  • 10/07/2023 – Deadline for the evaluation feedback on the proposals
  • 07/17/2023 – Deadline for issuing invitation letters and acceptance of selected proposals
  • 24/07/2023 – Confirmation of participation and registration of participating authors
  • 09/08/2023 – IV Workshop – PUC Rio – preparation for the XVI ASADIP Conference (2023)
General information and submission rules:
  • The proposals of papers – articles, expanded abstracts and posters – in the official languages for ASADIP – Spanish, English and Portuguese – should be submitted and sent within the deadlines to the e-mail: 4workshop.dipr.pucrio2023@gmail.com.
  • There will be no registration fees and the organising committee will issue acceptance letters according to the flow of requests from selected participants.Participants will be solely responsible for arranging financial support in their respective institutions for transportation, accommodation, travel logistics and per diems for the presentation of selected papers at the IV Workshop.
  • The papers selected by peer review and approved should be adjusted according to the guidelines for authors and will be published in books/collections and proceedings of the event, with support from Brazilian and international funding agencies.
More information can be found on the ASADIP website, social media of the organizing institutions and updates on Sympla.

PhD positions at Humboldt University of Berlin

Professor Dr. Giesela Rühl, LL.M. (Berkeley) is currently seeking to fill three PhD positions at her Chair at Humboldt University of Berlin ( https://www.rewi.hu-berlin.de/en/lf/ls/rhl/index.html).

The successful candidate should have a keen interest in issue of private international law, international civil procedure and/or civil procedure (including access to justice and digital justice). Since the positions come with teaching obligations, knowledge of the German language (and German law) is required.

The official call for applications will be out soon. In the meanwhile if you are interested (or have any questions) please do not hesitate to get in touch: sekretariat.ruehl.rewi@hu-berlin.de.

The Visible College of International Lawyers and the HCCH 2019 Judgments Convention – Conference in Bonn

The HCCH 2019 Judgments Convention has been the subject of an ever-growing body of academic research and discussion ever since it was signed; but due to the pandemic, almost all of it had to happen in writing. Just in time for its entry into force, though, and thus perfectly timed, the first international conference on the HCCH 2019 Judgments Convention Cornerstones – Prospects – Outlook took place a week ago at the University of Bonn, hosted by Matthias Weller together with Moritz Brinkmann and Nina Dethloff, in cooperation with the Permanent Bureau of the HCCH, and with the support of the German Federal Ministry of Justice.

The conference brought together much of the aforementioned discussion between a range of academics, practitioners and policymakers, including the contributors to the book of the same title, edited by Matthias Weller, João Ribeiro-Bidaoui, Moritz Brinkmann, and Nina Dethloff, for which the conference doubled as a launch event. It accordingly followed the same structure, organized into seven panels overall that were split into three larger blocks.


The first of those (“Cornerstones”) focused on some of the core concepts underpinning the Convention. Wolfgang Hau (LMU Munich) discussed the meaning of ‘judgments’, ‘recognition’, and ‘enforcement’; Pietro Franzina (Catholic University of Milan) focused on the jurisdictional filters (with an emphasis on contractual obligations, i.e. Art. 5(1)(g)); and Marcos Dotta Salgueiro (University of the Republic of Montevideo) discussed the grounds for refusal. After some lively discussion, the block continued with papers on the Convention’s much-discussed Art. 29 (Cristina Mariottini (Luxembourg)) and on its interplay with the 2005 Choice of Court Convention (Paul Beaumont (University of Stirling)).

Also in light of some less nuanced recent interventions, Cristina Mariottini’s paper was particularly welcome to dispel some myths surrounding Art. 29. The speaker rightly pointed out that the mechanism is not only very different from the much-criticized bilateralization requirement of the 1971 Convention but can also be found, in one form or another, in a range of other instruments, including the rather successful 1970 Evidence and 1980 Child Abduction Conventions.

A much wider angle was then taken in the second block (“Prospects for the World”), which brought together perspectives from the European Union (Andreas Stein (European Commission)), the US (Linda Silberman (NYU)), Canada (Geneviève Saumier (McGill University)), the Balkan Peninsula (Ilja Rumenov (Skopje University)), Arab countries (Béligh Elbalti (University of Osaka)), Africa (Abubakri Yekini (University of Manchester) and Chukwuma Okoli (University of Birmingham)), the MERCOSUR Region (Verónica Ruiz Abou-Nigm (University of Edinburgh)), the ASEAN countries (Adeline Chong (SMU)), and China (Zheng (Sophia) Tang (Wuhan University)) in four consecutive panels. While the first block had already highlighted some of the compromises that had to be made during the drafting of the Convention and at the diplomatic conference, it became even clearer that the Convention (or, more precisely, the prospect of its ratification) may be subject to vastly different obstacles and objections in different parts of the globe. While some countries may not consider the Convention to be ambitious enough, others may consider it too much of an intrusion into their right to refuse the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments – or raise even more fundamental concerns regarding the implementation of the Convention, its interplay with existing bilateral treaties (seemingly a particularly pertinent problem for Arab countries), or with multilateralism in recognition and enforcement more generally. The conference gave room to all of those concerns and provided important context through some truly impressive comparative research, e.g. on the complex landscape of bilateral agreements in and between most Arab states.

The different threads of discussion that had been started throughout the event were finally put together in a closing panel (“Outlook”). Ning Zhao (HCCH) recounted the complicated genesis of the Convention and reflected on the lessons that could be learned from them, emphasizing the need for bridging differences through narrowing down the scope of projects and offering opt-out mechanisms, and for enhancing mutual trust, including through post-convention work. She also provided an update on the ongoing jurisdiction project; José Angelo Estrella Faria (UNIDROIT) advocated a holistic approach to judicial cooperation and international commercial arbitration; and Hans van Loon (HCCH) finally summarized the conference as a whole, putting the emphasis both on the significant achievement that the convention constitutes and the need to put further work into its promotion.

The conference had set out to identify the cornerstones of the 2019 Convention, to discuss its prospects, and to provide an outlook into the future of the Convention. It has clearly achieved all three of these goals. It included a wide range of perspectives on the Convention, highlighted its achievements without shying away from discussing its present and future obstacles, and thus provided ample food for thought and discussion for both the proponents and the critics of the Convention.

At the end of the first day, Burkhard Hess (MPI Luxembourg) gave a dinner speech and reflected on the current shape of the notorious ‘invisible college of international lawyers’ in private international law. As evidenced by the picture above, the college certainly was rather visible in Bonn.



DEADLINE EXTENDED-Call for submissions: 2023 Nygh and Brennan Essay Prizes – ILA Australian Branch

Written by Phoebe Winch, Secretary of International Law Association (ILA) Australian Branch.


The Australian Branch is now calling for submissions for the 2023 Brennan Essay Prize in Public International Law and the Nygh Essay Prize in Private International Law.

The prizes are awarded for essays that demonstrate outstanding scholarship and make a distinct contribution to the field of public international law and private international law (conflict of laws), respectively. Essays for the prize to be awarded in 2023 should be sent to the email address of the Secretary of the Australian Branch at secretary@ila.org.au.

Further details (including conditions of entry) are available hereThe extended deadline for submission is: 5 August 2023.

The results will be made available on the website of the ILA (www.ila.org.au) on approximately 31 August 2023. Winners will be notified by email. 

Upcoming Event: International Symposium (hybrid format) on International Arbitration and Mediation in Japan

The Ministry of Justice of Japan (MOJ), Civil Affairs Bureau, in cooperation with the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association (JCAA) and supported by CIArb East Asia Branch, Japan Association of Arbitration (JAA), Japan International Dispute Resolution Center (JIDRC), is organizing an international symposium (hybrid format) on the “Future Prospects of International Arbitration and Mediation: How does the Judiciary Assist?”.

This event could not have been more timely as the House of Councillors (the upper house of the Japanese Diet) unanimously passed and enacted into law on 21 April of this year the amendments to the Arbitration Act and the “Act for the Implementation of Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation” (the “Singapore Mediation Convention Implementation Act”). These enactments aim to promote international arbitration and mediation in Japan and to make Japan an attractive hub for international dispute resolution in competition with other leading centers in the region.


Date, Venue & Formats:

July 7 (Fri.), 2023, 9am-12:30 pm (JST)

Hotel New Otani Tokyo?ONSITE / Online?

Language: English

English-Japanese consecutive interpretation available

Program (see link below):

Keynote Speeches

Panel Sessions

Registration: free

Sign up on the Official Website of the Forums

by 6pm, JUNE 26 (Mon.) for ONSITE participation,

by noon, JULY 3 (Mon.) for Online participation


Details of registration and the program can be found here.

Review of Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts

While doing research on a choice of law article, I found it necessary to consult a book generally co-edited by Professors Daniel Girsberger, Thomas Graziano, Jan Neels on Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts (‘Girsberger et al’). The book was officially published on 22 March 2021. I began reading sections of the book related to tacit choice of law sometime in December 2022 and found the work truly global and compelling. At the beginning of June this year, I decided to read the whole book and finished reading it today. It is 1376 pages long!

To cut the whole story short, the book is the bible on choice of law in international commercial contracts. It covers over 60 countries, including regional and supranational bodies’ rules on choice of law. Professor Symoen Symeonides had previously written a single authored award winning book on Codifying Choice of Law Around the World, but that work did not cover as much as Girsberger et al’s book in terms of the number of countries,  and regional and supranational instruments (or principles) covered.

The book arose from the drafting of the Hague Principles on Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts, headed by Professor Girsberger and commissioned by Professor Marta Partegas. The central aim of the Hague Principles is to promote party autonomy, as the Hague Principles does not touch on the law applicable in the absence of choice.

The book starts with a general comparative outline of choice of law around the world and its comparison to the Hague Principles. This outline is derived from the works of many other scholars that contributed to the book. In other preliminary chapters, there are discussions devoted to party autonomy, provenance of the Hague Principles, roadmap to promoting the Hague Principles, international commercial arbitration, and perspectives from UNIDROIT and UNCITRAL.

The essential part of the book focuses on regional and national reports of countries around the world, with a focus on comparison to the Hague Principles. The format used is consistent, and easy to follow for all the reports in this order: introduction and preamble, scope of the principles, freedom of choice, rules of law, express and tacit choice of law, formal validity of the choice of law, agreement on the choice of law and battle of forms, severability, exclusion of renvoi, scope of the chosen law, assignment, overriding mandatory rules and public policy, establishment, law applicable in the absence of choice, and international commercial arbitration.

The Hague Principles has been successful so far given the regional or supranational bodies such as Asia,[1] and Latin America[2] that have endorsed it. From 31st May to 3 June 2023, the Research Centre for Private International Law in Emerging Countries in University of Johannesburg held a truly Pan-African Conference on the African Principles on Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts.[3] Many African scholars (including myself) and some South African government officials were present and spoke in this very successful conference. The African Principles also draws some inspiration from the Hague Principles, which involved the participation of African scholars like Professors Jan Neels and Richard Frimpong Oppong.

Girsberger et al’s book and the Hague Principles success so far may be due to the more inclusive approach it took, rather than other Hague Conventions that are not fully representative of countries around the world, especially African stakeholders.

More please.

[1] Asian Principles on Private International Law 2018.

[2] Guide of the Organization of American States on the Applicable Law to International Commercial Contracts 2019

[3] See generally JL Neels and EA Fredericks, “An Introduction to the African Principles of Commercial Private International Law”(2018) 29 Stellenbosch Law Review 347; JL Neels, ‘The African Principles on the Law Applicable to International Commercial Contracts – A First Drafting Experiment’ (2021) 25 Uniform Law Review 426, 431; JL Neels and EA Fredericks, ‘The African Principles of Commercial Private International Law and the Hague Principles’ in Girsberger et al  paras 8.09-8.11.