My academic first love is commercial conflict of laws, with a special focus on the European Union, United Kingdom, African continent, and Nigeria. However, I have very recently included global comparative perspectives in commercial conflict of laws as part of my research agenda, which is the focus of this spotlight.
A global comparative approach to law is a relatively new phenomenon. It is an approach that is thorough and very inclusive, usually leading to stronger and more convincing conclusions. When I refer to ‘global’, however, I mean a truly comprehensive approach that covers legal systems around the world, rather than referencing just a few jurisdictions or concentrating solely on the Global South or Global North.
Over 10 years ago, Emeritus Professor Symeon Symeonides was the first scholar I truly admired in this field, although I have never met him in person. In 2014, he produced a seminal work on Codifying Choice of Law around the World: An International Comparative Analysis (OUP 2014). This book covered around 100 national codifications and all relevant international, regional, and supranational instruments for the choice of law in obligations. In my view, Symeonides is therefore the intellectual pioneer of global comparative approaches in conflict of laws.
Being attracted to this methodology, when I published Place of Performance: A Comparative Analysis (Hart 2020), I proposed a global solution to the place of characteristic performance as the principal connecting factor to determine the applicable law in the absence of choice for international commercial contracts. Nevertheless, I fell short of using a global comparative methodology, as adopted by Symeonides. This is because the proposal in my monograph was mainly inspired by the European experience.
The situation has now changed, with my publication of two articles this year, wherein I apply a global comparative perspective to commercial conflict of laws. The first is titled significance of a forum selection agreement as an indicator of the implied choice of law in international contracts: a global comparative perspective | Uniform Law Review | Oxford Academic (oup.com) (Uniform Law Review 2023). It presents all relevant international, regional, and supranational instruments, as well as examining selected legal systems in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America, specifically regarding this topic. The legal systems compared encompass those from the Global North and Global South, and include common law, civil law, and mixed legal systems.
I have likewise utilised the same global comparative perspective in another article, co-authored with Dr. Abubakri Yekini of the University of Manchester. This second article is titled ‘Implied Jurisdiction Agreement in International Commercial Contracts: A Global Comparative Perspective’ (currently under final consideration by the Journal of Private International Law 2023, following peer review). It was generously funded in the sum of 6000 Euros by the WWU Fellowship at the University of Munster, where I spent three months as a visiting academic this summer. In addition, the above article was recently presented on 3-5 August 2023 at the Ninth Journal of Private International Law Conference, held in Singapore Management University – The Journal of Private International Law Conference is unrivalled as the leading scholarly forum for conflict of laws. It is therefore no surprise that this conference attracted about 136 international scholars from 6 continents and 36 countries. Furthermore, this article was recently presented at Lancaster University on 21 June 2023, on the invitation of Dr. Mukarrum Ahmed for the workshop, ‘Challenges in Contemporary International Litigation’.
My application of global comparative perspectives in commercial conflict of laws is aimed at raising the profile of Birmingham Law School as an institution that supports world class and inclusive research. My aspiration is also that it will position me as one of the leading experts in my field, which I have worked very hard towards and dedicated myself to achieving. Therefore, I intend to continue to include global comparative perspectives in my research agenda.