UCL FACULTY OF LAWS

LLM Programme

The taught modules offered on the LLM programme vary from year to year. Please check the full list of taught modules list for details of modules running in specific academic years. We make every effort to ensure that every module will be offered, but modules are subject to change and cancellation. You are therefore advised to check this site regularly for further updates throughout the year preceding entry to the LLM programme.


INTERNATIONAL COMMERCIAL LITIGATION (LAWSG022)
Credit value: 30 credits (12 ECTS)
Module Convenor: Dr Alex Mills Other Teachers: Claire Van Overdijk
Content

Summary:

London is the leading international centre for commercial dispute resolution. Most of the cases brought before the English commercial courts involve one or more foreign parties, and many of these have little or no connection with the United Kingdom. Parties from around the world are drawn to litigate in England, seeking to take advantage of the expertise of English law, lawyers and courts. In the (somewhat provocative and controversial) words of the well-known English judge Lord Denning, “You may call this ‘forum-shopping’ if you please, but if the forum is England, it is a good place to shop in, both for the quality of the goods and the speed of service.” (The Atlantic Star [1973] QB 364, 382).

Any time that proceedings are commenced which have connections with more than one legal system, questions of private international law or the conflict of laws must be considered. This module examines the rules and principles which apply to resolve these questions as they arise in international commercial litigation before the English courts. The three main questions which arise are:

  1. Jurisdiction – whether the English courts will hear a dispute;
  2. Applicable law – which law or laws will be applied to resolve the dispute (perhaps counter-intuitively, courts will often apply foreign law if the case has its most significant connections with a foreign legal order); and
  3. The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments – whether the courts will give effect to a foreign judgment which has already sought to determine the issues between the parties.

This module also examines some of the key ancillary orders which the courts may make in dealing with such disputes, including anti-suit injunctions (which seek to protect English jurisdiction by restraining foreign proceedings) and asset freezing orders (which seek to protect English jurisdiction or assist foreign courts by preserving assets against which a judgment might ultimately be enforced).

In examining these different issues, the module draws on a range of sources – the law which applies in England is a mixture of common law and European Union elements, and it is also influenced by international conventions. At appropriate points, comparisons will also be drawn with the approaches taken in other legal systems, particularly the United States, Australia and Canada.

While this module focuses on the approach to international commercial litigation in English courts, it is of relevance to those seeking to practice commercial law in any jurisdiction. It is not just litigation lawyers who need to understand these issues – transactional lawyers also need to understand and advise on litigation risk when drafting and negotiating contracts. For foreign lawyers, the course serves both as an introduction and explanation of the key issues they will face, and also more directly will assist if they are required to advise parties on the approach to these issues in England or other Member States of the European Union.

Syllabus:

  1. Introduction
  2. Jurisdiction under the Brussels I Regulation
  3. Jurisdiction under the common law
  4. Parallel proceedings and lis pendens
  5. Stays of proceedings under the Brussels I Regulation
  6. Anti-suit injunctions
  7. Freezing injunctions
  8. Recognition and enforcement of judgments under the common law
  9. Recognition and enforcement of judgments under the Brussels I Regulation
  10. Introduction to choice of law
  11. Choice of law in contract
  12. Choice of law in tort
  13. Substance and procedure
  14. Public policy and mandatory rules
  15. The pleading and proof of foreign law

Background Reading (optional):

  • Cheshire, North and Fawcett, ‘Private International Law’ (14th edn, 2008), Chapter 1
  • Clarkson & Hill, ‘The Conflict of Laws’ (4th edn, 2011), Chapter 1
  • Hartley, ‘International Commercial Litigation: Text, Cases and Materials on Private International Law’ (2009), Chapters 1-2
  • Mills, ‘The Confluence of Public and Private International Law’ (2009), Chapter 1
  • Rogerson, ‘Collier’s Conflict of Laws’ (4th edn, 2013), Chapter 1

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, once students have made their module selections upon enrolment in September.

Delivery and enrolment
Lectures/Seminars: 20 x 2-hour seminars
Tutorials: Yes
Previous module enrolments: Medium – 16-50 students
Who may enrol: LLM students
Prerequisities: None
Barred module combinations: None
Core Module for LLM specialism: Litigation and Dispute Resolution, International Commercial Law, International Law
Assessment
Final Assessment: 3-hour unseen written examination
Practice Assessment: Opportunity for feedback on one optional practice essay per term

This page was last updated on 8 July, 2014

APPLICATION NOTICES

The application process for the 2015-16 academic session is now open.

Please note, for the 2015-16 intake, we are not accepting the TOEFL test. If you have an English condition to meet, you must take one of the alternative tests listed here instead.