Skip to main content

Unit information: International Commercial Litigation in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name International Commercial Litigation
Unit code LAWDM1004
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Arzandeh
Open unit status Not open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


It cannot be assumed that a court will decide a case with foreign elements (such as events which have taken place abroad or parties who are resident abroad) in the same way as a case which is entirely domestic. This unit examines three kinds of question which can arise in transnational cases. The first is whether the English court has jurisdiction to hear the matter. Secondly, if the English court is able to assume jurisdiction, it must apply the relevant choice-of-law rules to determine whether to English law or the law of a foreign country is applicable to the dispute. Thirdly, a party to litigation which has taken place abroad may seek to have the foreign judgement recognised or enforced in England; the question then is whether the decision of the foreign court should be treated as having definitively determined the rights and obligations of the parties.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit a successful student should be able to:

  • demonstrate a critical understanding of the conceptual framework which shapes the court-based resolution of cross-border commercial disputes;
  • demonstrate that he/she is able analyse the differences and interaction between the English common law’s and EC law’s approaches to legal problems generated by international litigation;
  • state and critically evaluate the legal problems posed by complex factual situations and to understand how the applicable norms provide answers to such problems
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of debates about how the current legal framework might be reformed and to assess the significance and merits of such reform proposals
  • critically analyse the important legal principles in the fields of jurisdiction, choice of law and the recognition/enforcement of foreign judgments and be able to apply them accurately to offer reasoned solutions to hypothetical problem questions;
  • understand and analyse the process whereby, as regards cross-border litigation, the legal system has arrived at its current position.

Teaching details

This unit is taught by way of 10 lectures (approx.), 10 two-hour seminars and 2 assessment preparation and feedback sessions. Lectures are delivered jointly to students on the related undergraduate unit.

Assessment Details

Summative: a 2000 word essay (33%) and a 3 hour written examination (67%). Both assessments will assess all of the Intended Learning Outcomes for this unit in the context of topics selected by the examiners.

Formative: students should do one formative assessment (this will usually be 1 x 1500 word essay).

Reading and References

  • Clarkson & Hill, The Conflict of Laws (5th edn, 2016)
  • Hartley, International Commercial Litigation (2nd edn, 2015)
  • Rogerson, Collier’s Conflict of Laws (4th edn, 2013)
  • Hill & Chong, International Commercial Disputes (4th edn, 2010)
  • Dicey, Morris & Collins, The Conflict of Laws (15th edn, 2012) – reference text only
  • Briggs, Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments (6th edn, 2015) – reference text only