UCL Faculty of Laws


Inaugural Lecture: The Privatisation of Private (and) International Law

06 February 2020, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm


The Current Legal Problems (CLP) lecture series and annual volume was established over fifty five years ago at the Faculty of Laws, University College London and is recognised as a major reference point for legal scholarship.

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Bentham House
UCL Laws
United Kingdom

Inaugural Lecture

Speaker: Professor Alex Mills (Faculty of Laws, UCL)

Chair: Professor Campbell McLachlan QC (Victoria University Wellington)


The boundary between public and private legal relations at the international level has become increasingly fluid. State actors engage internationally in private commercial activity, while the privatisation of traditional governmental functions has led to private actors exercising ostensibly public authority, and accelerated the development of a hybridised public-private international investment law. Privatisation as a general phenomenon is much debated, although there has been relatively little focus on the governmental functions which are perhaps of most interest to lawyers – law making, law enforcement, and dispute resolution. This lecture will argue that modern legal developments in the context of private law and cross-border private legal relations can be usefully analysed as two distinct forms of privatisation. First, privatisation of the allocative functions of public and private international law, in respect of both institutional and substantive aspects of regulation. Second, privatisation of the institutional and substantive regulation of private legal relationships themselves, through arbitration and the recognition of non-state law. Analysing these developments through the lens of privatisation highlights a number of important critical questions which deserve greater consideration.

About the Speaker

Alex Mills is Professor of Public and Private International Law in the Faculty of Laws, University College London. His research encompasses a range of foundational issues across public and private international law, as well as international investment law and commercial arbitration. He has degrees in Philosophy and Law from the University of Sydney, and an LLM and PhD (awarded the Yorke Prize) from the University of Cambridge, where he also taught before joining UCL. His publications include ‘Party Autonomy in Private International Law’ (CUP, 2018), ‘The Confluence of Public and Private International Law’ (CUP, 2009), and (co-authored) ‘Cheshire North and Fawcett’s Private International Law’ (OUP, 2017). He was awarded the American Society of International Law’s Private International Law Prize in 2010, has Directed Studies in Private International Law at the Hague Academy of International Law, and is a member of Blackstone Chambers Academic Advisory Panel and the Editorial Board of the International and Comparative Law Quarterly.

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