University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law

International Commercial Litigation (LL.M.)


The English Courts enjoy a unique position in the resolution of international commercial disputes. Of the cases heard by the Commercial Court in London, many involve at least one foreign party and many concern disputes neither party to which is English. A reflection of Londonís prominence in worldwide trade and commerce, especially in the areas of banking, shipping and insurance, the international flavour of English commercial litigation ensures that the Commercial Court is truly an international forum. If commercial litigation in the English courts is thus of concern to anyone concerned with international trade and commerce, the subject has acquired fresh significance in recent years. Britainís membership of the European Union has brought with it participation in a number of treaties regulating crucial aspects of litigation practice. This ensures that the study of English commercial litigation is as much the study of European law as the study of English national law.

The purpose of the Cambridge course in International Commercial Litigation is to examine the law and practice of commercial litigation in England. Its objective is to provide a comprehensive, technical knowledge of the subject, combined with a working understanding of its practical, commercial context. Special emphasis is placed on matters of strategy and practice, as much as on the law itself, and on the function of litigation procedure as a framework within which parties may settle their differences. Teaching in the course is practical and interactive. Assignments, normally based upon one or two leading cases, will be set in advance of each meeting and supplemented by additional, follow-up reading.

A prior knowledge of Conflict of Laws or Civil Procedure is not necessary but is advantageous.

The structure of the course reflects the consecutive stages of an international commercial dispute. The following topics receive special attention:

  1. Introduction to international litigation: the strategy and practice of forum selection. The dynamics of international litigation. The operation of the Commercial Court.
  2. The jurisdiction of the English Courts: jurisdiction and the staying of actions. The traditional approach of English law. The 1968 Brussels Convention on jurisdiction and enforcement of judgments.
  3. Granting interim relief: the nature and extent of Mareva Injunctions.
  4. The applicable law in commercial disputes: choice of law in contract.
  5. Foreign proceedings and the English courts: Negative declarations. Antisuit injunctions. The enforcement of foreign judgements.