Hugh Collins, ‘Cosmopolitanism and Transnational Private Law’

As a legal mechanism for doing justice between individuals under conditions of scarce resources, private law derives its legitimacy from both national governmental institutions that pursue a particular scheme of social justice and to a lesser and often overlooked extent from cosmopolitan principles of civil law. The cosmopolitan view of private law suggests that it is in an important sense found, not made, discovered by the exercise of reason, moral argument, and logical thought. It is not tied to any particular political structure, whether state, village or empire. European Union private law relies for its legitimacy almost entirely on its pursuit of a thin theory of justice concerning the enhancement of individual choice, which inevitably brings it into conflict with national private law systems that pursue broader schemes of social justice. Transnational commercial law (or the new lex mercatoria) also relies upon the narrow justification of the enhancement of cross-border trade, but its creation by private actors increases its efficacy and efficiency. Both European Union private law and transnational commercial law lack, however, adequate links to cosmopolitan principles of law and broad conceptions of social justice, with the effect that their legitimacy is weaker than that of national private law systems. The principal conclusion of this analysis is the contention is that the cosmopolitan strand of legitimacy, if it is to provide adequate support for transnational law, must realign itself with concerns about social justice.

Collins, Hugh, Cosmopolitanism and Transnational Private Law. European Review of Contract Law. Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 311–325, ISSN (Online) 1614-9939, ISSN (Print) 1614-9920, DOI: 10.1515/ercl-2012-0311, July 2012.

First posted 2012-07-11 06:36:04

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