Legal and institutional framework of international trade

Legal and institutional framework of international trade


At the end of this session, learners will understand the legal and institutional framework of international trade. They will identify the challenges and specificities of the international dimension of business law. They will know the fundamental rules of international trade.

French legal system

An example of State legal system.

French law: quick overview

The legal system of the European Union

A sui generis legal system, intermediate between a developed legal system instituted by a treaty and a federal State.

European Union law: overview

European Convention on Human Rights

This Convention is an international treaty under which the member States of the Council of Europe undertake to secure fundamental civil and political rights, to everyone within their jurisdiction.

The Council of Europe

EU-UK Agreement

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement is an international agreement.

EU-UK Agreement

International law

Distinguishing public international law and private international law.
Sources of international law.
Internal law vs international law.

Public international law

Public international law

Private international law

International business law: several legal systems addressing international matters.
International business litigation
International business law: sources of law.
Conflicts between laws and between courts.
Public order: applicable rules vs mandatory rules
Freedom vs public order.
International public order.

International legal system(s)

For private operators, the international legal system is not an integrated coherent body of rules, applied by specific courts. Instead, there exist several international legal systems. Some are mandatory, other are facultative.

International treaties

Article 55 of the French Constitution provides that treaties or international agreements duly ratified or approved shall, from the time of their publication, have a higher authority than laws, subject, for each treaty of agreement, to its application by the other party.

+ Read: International treaties binding France (official website

World Trade Organization (WTO)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is based in Genève, Switzerland. It presents itself as the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations.

The WTO is mainly aimed at States rather than private operators.

+ Read: About the WTO (website

International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is based in Paris, France. The ICC is a private organization that presents itself as the institutional representative of more than 45 million companies in over 100 countries. ICC is a leading arbitral institution for international business matters.

+ Read: About ICC


The ICC defines the Incoterms (International Commercial Terms).

+ Read:


Based in Rome, Italy, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) presents itself as an independent intergovernmental Organisation which purpose is to “study needs and methods for modernising, harmonising and co-ordinating private and in particular commercial law as between States and groups of States and to formulate uniform law instruments, principles and rules to achieve those objectives”.

+ Read: About UNIDROIT (website

Lex Mercatoria

Lex mercatoria refers to the rules generally applied between merchants. It is composed of general principles of law and usages of international trade.

Convention of Vienna (CISG, 1980)

The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (Vienna, 1980) (CISG) is an international agreement between 94 parties.

  • CISG governs contracts for the international sales of goods between private businesses, excluding sales to consumers and sales of services, as well as sales of certain specified types of goods.
  • It applies to contracts for sale of goods:
    • between parties whose places of business are in different Contracting States,
    • or when the rules of private international law lead to the application of the law of a Contracting State,
    • or by virtue of the parties’ choice.

+ Official website (

Hague Conference on Private International Law

The Hague Conference is a global inter-governmental organisation based in The Hague (The Netherlands).


  • An intergovernmental organisation, the purpose of which is “to work for the progressive unification of the rules of private international law” (Statute, Article 1).
  • 90 members (89 States and the European Union).
  • First meeting in 1893.
  • Became a permanent inter-governmental organisation in 1955.



  • Meet in principle every four years in Plenary Session (ordinary Diplomatic Session) to negotiate and adopt Conventions and to decide upon future work.
  • Special Commissions or working groups held several times a year prepare the new Conventions, review the operation of the existing Conventions and adopt recommendations with the object of improving the effectiveness of the Conventions and promoting consistent practices and interpretation.

HCCH Convention of 15 June 1955 on the law applicable to international sales of goods

+ Official website (

HCCH Convention of 14 March 1978 on the law applicable to agency

+ Official website (




PRACTICAL CASE: negotiating and drafting an international business agreement

Par Franck BEAUDOIN, Avocat

Avocat, président et fondateur de la société d’avocats FB JURIS, directeur de la publication des sites juridiques et

Laisser un commentaire