Chapter Four: The Globalization Of Law And Dispute Resolution

I. Introduction

The previous three chapters have traced the development of over-arching global regulation and legislation from the specialized perspectives of economics, cultural life and taxation. This chapter will step back to take a broader view of the law, but will reach the same conclusion: that law, which once was the prerogative of the human social group, has been corralled by the nation state, but will now, through globalization, once again become the common property of human beings.

At least for the corporate sector, but also in some personal areas of life such as investment, sport and property rights, the footprint of regional or global legislation has already become greater than that of domestic (national) legislation.

As a generalization, though, it's possible to say that codification of law at a global level has marched ahead of implementation. It's not that difficult for a global body such as the International Olympic Committee to draw up a set of rules which are then accepted by all its member nations (meaning, in effect, everybody). Much harder is to create an international apparatus for dealing with disputes over their application, or with people or firms who transgress against the rules (a dispute between the regulator and the regulated).

Usually, the pattern has been that national courts or arbitrators have sorted out disputes occurring on their own territory, by incorporating wider law into national law, or by referencing it. But given the increasingly international nature of much human behaviour, commercial or otherwise, there is a trend for dispute resolution to migrate to international fora. Evidently, once both the setting up of rules and the resolution of disputes are both international, the nation state has been excluded from the regulatory process, although it may well find itself in the sometimes uncomfortable position of having to implement the findings of an international forum in respect of its own citizens or firms.

This chapter will examine the development of law from its roots based in the human kin group, through its takeover by nation states, to the re-appearance of 'grass roots' judicial procedures at an international level through globalized institutions.