The author, an international arbitrator, mediator and consultant, is admitted to practice law in Zurich (Switzerland), New York and California. He resides in San Francisco. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
An international practitioner with experience arbitrating in common law and civil law regimes discusses the differences between the two systems and how the best of both are being used to improve the efficiency of international arbitration.
This article examines the two main legal systems in the world—the civil law and the common law—and their impact on international arbitration. The majority of the world’s population lives under the civil law, but the influence of the common law is significant. Before becoming an international arbitrator, I practiced law in both civil and common law jurisdictions so this article contains personal and academic reflections.
The civil law system is steeped in Roman law, which eventually led to the Napoleonic Code, the foundation of French law. The civil law spread to the rest of continental Europe, Russia, China, most of Asia, Latin America, and part of Africa. The common law system is the Anglo-American legal tradition based on English law.1 It spread to the United States, Canada, India, Australia and the rest of the British Commonwealth.