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Unit information: International Commercial Litigation in 2015/16

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Unit name International Commercial Litigation
Unit code LAWDM1004
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Arzandeh
Open unit status Not open

Law of Contract LAWDM0061 (or equivalent) Law of Tort LAWDM0062 (or equivalent)



School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

It cannot be assumed that a court will decide a case with foreign elements (such as events which have taken place abroad or parties who are resident abroad) in the same way as a case which is entirely domestic. This unit examines three kinds of question which can arise in transnational cases. The first is whether the English court has jurisdiction to hear the matter. Secondly, if the English court is able to assume jurisdiction, it must apply the relevant choice-of-law rules to determine whether to English law or the law of a foreign country is applicable to the dispute. Thirdly, a party to litigation which has taken place abroad may seek to have the foreign judgment recognised or enforced in England; the question then is whether the decision of the foreign court should be treated as having definitively determined the rights and obligations of the parties.


  • to understand the conceptual framework which shapes the court-based resolution of cross-border commercial disputes;
  • to appreciate the different approaches of English common law and EC law to legal problems generated by international litigation
  • to understand the interaction of these two bodies of rules
  • to be able to identify the legal problems posed by complex factual situations and to understand how the applicable norms provide answers to such problems
  • to understand debates about how the current legal framework might be reformed and to assess the significance and merits of such reform proposals
  • to understand the role played by different legislative bodies at various levels (national, regional and international).

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, the student will be able, to a degree commensurate with the level at which the unit is taught, to:

  • demonstrate a sound understanding of the conceptual framework of private international law
  • reveal an understanding of the goals of legal regulation at the level of private international law and assess the extent to which different legal regimes achieve those goals
  • evaluate the different approaches taken by different legal regimes to key problem issues
  • show a firm grasp of the important legal principles in the fields of jurisdiction, choice of law and the recognition/enforcement of foreign judgments and be able to apply them accurately to offer reasoned solutions to hypothetical problem questions
  • to understand the process whereby, as regards cross-border litigation, the legal system has arrived at its current position

Teaching Information

Two-hour seminars (eleven)

Assessment Information

Summative assessment: a 3000 word essay (33%) will assess the candidate's ability to research a topic within the scope of this unit. The remaining Intended Learning Outcomes will be assessed in a 3 hour written examination (67%).

Formative assignment in the Autumn term.

Reading and References

  • Clarkson & Hill, The Conflict of Laws (3rd edn, 2006)
  • Hill, International Commercial Disputes (3rd edn, 2005)
  • Cheshire, North & Fawcett, Private International Law (14th edn, 2009)
  • Dicey, Morris & Collins, The Conflict of Laws (14th eds, 2006)
  • Hartley, International Commercial Litigation (2009)