The present study presents a historical and legal inquiry into the notion of (new) lex mercatoria. Starting from the dominant account which assumes a medieval origin of the concept, we show how such a genealogy was instrumentalised in order to grant the “new” lex mercatoria operative legitimacy. Further on, we analyse the present state of this transnational corpus of norms, debating its functional symbiosis with international arbitration and how it became a hermeneutic instrument at the disposal of international arbitrators when identifying the rules that apply to the merits of a dispute. In the end, we try to put the discussion into the larger political context, addressing the challenges that such a vision of legal autonomy can encounter in the postmodern economic environment.
Arbitration: The International Journal of Arbitration, Mediation and Dispute Management
“A war of faith is raging in the field of international economic law. Since the sixties, international lawyers have fought a thirty years’ war over the independence of a global lex mercatoria.” (Gunther Teubner)