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With the growth of international trade, arbitration has emerged as the preferred remedy for disputes in private international commerce. Its adjudicatory features respond well to the sui generis dispute resolution needs of international commercial contracts. Most significantly, an arbitration agreement acts as an elaborate choice-of-forum clause. It allows the parties to satisfy their need for a predictable and effective dispute resolution process by creating a more realistic and workable framework that supersedes the fundamentally parochial alternative proffered by national legal systems. The party autonomy principle that underlies arbitration gives the contracting parties the power to fashion a remedial process tailored to their specific needs, limited only by fundamental public policy concerns.

This article endeavors to assess the substantive potential of international arbitration. It assumes that a fully functional transnational adjudicatory process must not only provide certainty as to remedial relief but must also fulfill a normative mission. This analysis focuses upon the historical and contemporary status of arbitral law in three major industrialized states: England, the United States, and France.