International construction law as a ‘Private Legal System’ (Matthew BELL)

International construction law as a ‘Private Legal System’ (Matthew BELL)


The legal issues involved in the construction and use of the built environment are complex, diverse and of fundamental importance to commerce and society around the world. However, legislative and judicial inroads into construction activity remain susceptible to parochial concerns, resulting in legal regulation tending to run counter to the desire of international commerce for certainty and coherence. In turn, the construction law community displays a preference for legal mechanisms which, to the extent possible, transcend local regulation, such as standard forms of contract and international arbitration. This paper argues that the apparent conflict between construction law regulation and the community’s preferences can at least partially be explained by reference to scholarship on ‘Private Legal Systems’ (PLSs) which has been undertaken in relation to other transnational commercial endeavours. It suggests, therefore, that applying a PLS-based analysis to international construction may assist in promoting greater coherence in this vital point of interface between commerce and the law.

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