The Use of Soft Law in the Creation of Legal Norms in International Commercial Law: How Successful Has It Been?

In this Article, I examine several interrelated points. After defining soft law in Part II, I briefly set out some of the assumed advantages soft law instruments may have over legislation and regulations in Part III. In Part IV, I examine why some soft law instruments in international commercial law have been successful in creating international legal norms. In this Part, I specifically examine the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts to show how one might gauge success by looking beyond the express purpose of the instrument. I also compare the UNIDROIT Principles of Commercial Contracts with the American Law Institute’s Restatements of Law to show different ways in which soft law instruments might be successful. In Part V, I examine the role international commercial trade usage may play in soft law. Finally, in Part VI, I suggest that the benefits of soft law in international commercial law might only be fully realized over a long timeframe.