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International Trade Law


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Guido Comparato
  • Assessment: a 4000-word essay (100%)

Module description

This module introduces and critically assesses the main rules governing the exchange of goods and services across countries. Given the lack of a globally unified legal system, the law of international trade relies on a plurality of sources, both national and transnational, which will be addressed in the module. In order to make sense of that complexity, the module is roughly divided in three blocks.

The first lectures will introduce the politics and economics of international trade, with an emphasis on the opposite views of free trade and protectionism. Subsequently, the module will concentrate on the international and regional legal frameworks under which international trade occurs, including the WTO, free trade agreements and the European Economic Area. Emphasis will be placed on the rules of the GATT and the GATS.

The second block will then examine the law governing commercial contracts for the exchange of goods in the transnational setting, more in particular choice and conflict of laws rules, international sales law, and rules on the international carriage of goods.

The third and shortest block will address some of the current issues of international trade, namely labour and consumer protection. In the final lecture/seminar we will focus on the politics of international trade in post-Brexit Britain.

Indicative module content

  • Politics and economics of international trade
  • The global institutional framework: UN and WTO law (GATT and GATS)
  • Free trade areas
  • Conflict and choice of law
  • Law of international sales (INCOTERMS, CISG)
  • Carriage of goods
  • Labour and consumer protection
  • International trade after Brexit

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • understand the basic structure and fundamental rules which govern modern trade
  • demonstrate skills useful in the legal profession, as well as in business and administration
  • understand the main features of international trade law
  • recognise the connections between substantive and theoretical issues linked to international trade law and policy
  • demonstrate a critical approach to the themes discussed.