This introductory chapter sets out the book’s purpose, which is to explore two discrete subjects whose relationship is acknowledged but often underappreciated: contract law and international commercial arbitration. Most commentators assume that when international commercial arbitrators apply national contract laws, they do so in fundamentally the same manner as national court judges of the jurisdictions whose laws are being applied. This book challenges that assumption. It contends that a legal culture specific to the international commercial arbitration community may lead arbitrators to decide issues governed by national contract laws differently from the way that national courts do. Moreover, they do so in ways that are predictable based on various aspects of international arbitration culture. The chapter also discusses the harmonization or unification of commercial law and describes the methodology and structure of the present volume.
Keywords: international arbitration, international commercial arbitration, contractual interpretation, suspension of performance, exceptio non adimpleti contractus, unification of law, harmonization of law, transnational law, lex mercatoria, arbitral decision-making, socio-legal approaches, grounded theory
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