Hannah L. Buxbaum, Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law, Indiana University Maurer School of Law. This chapter was written for the Colloquium on Mandatory Rules of Law in International Arbitration held at Columbia Law School in June 2007, and has not been updated.
The role of mandatory rules in civil litigation is an issue that has excited much attention in the private international law academy. It presents the sort of taxonomical challenge that conflicts scholars enjoy – which rules, precisely, should be defined as mandatory? – and resulting efforts have yielded many competing definitions and systems of classification.1 In addition, theories about how to characterize the operation of mandatory rules, focusing on whether they work within usual choice-of-law processes2 or rather outside them,3 intersect with important debates about the nature and limits of private international law itself.