UNIDROIT is working towards a soft harmonisation of civil procedural rules, primarily intended to apply in transnational disputes, but also to provide guidance in domestic law reforms.

The ALI/UNIDROIT Principles of Transnational Civil Procedure are its landmark instrument in this area- The Principles, as provided in Principle 1 “are standards for adjudication of transnational commercial disputes.” [They] may be equally appropriate for the resolution of most other kinds of civil disputes and may be the basis for future initiatives in reforming civil procedure.”

The ALI/UNIDROIT Principles of Transnational Civil Procedure may serve as a basis for regional implementation rules. A first step in this direction is a project UNIDROIT is currently working on with the European Law Institute (ELI) to develop European Rules of Civil Procedure.

UNIDROIT is presently also undertaking other projects in this area as part of its 2020-2022 Work Programme, these include Best Practices for Effective Enforcement, and the development of regional rules for International Civil Procedure in Latin America.


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The ALI/UNIDROIT Principles of Transnational Civil Procedure were prepared by a joint American Law Institute / UNIDROIT Study Group and adopted in 2004 by the Governing Council of UNIDROIT.

The ‘Principles’ consist of 31 provisions accompanied by commentary, and aim to reconcile differences among various national rules of civil procedure, taking into account the peculiarities of transnational disputes as compared to purely domestic ones. They may serve not only as guidelines for code projects in countries without long procedural traditions but may also serve as a basis for reform in countries with long and high-quality procedural traditions; they may also be applied by analogy in international commercial arbitration.

Access the Full Text of the Ali/Unidroit Principles of Transnational Civil Procedure, with Commentary

The Principles are accompanied by a set of ‘Rules’ of Transnational Civil Procedure, which were not formally adopted by UNIDROIT or the ALI, but constitute “the Reporters’ model implementation of the Principles, providing greater detail and illustrating concrete fulfillment of the Principles”. The Rules may be considered either for adoption “or for further adaptation in various legal systems,” and along with the Principles can be considered as “a model for reform in domestic legislation”.  Access the “Transnational Civil Procedure” ALI webpage

The Principles (with commentary, in both English and French) together with the Reporters’ Study containing Rules (with commentary) are published by Cambridge University Press.

UNIDROIT and the European Law Institute (ELI) are working together towards the development of European Rules of Civil Procedure. Leading academics, practicing lawyers, judges, and members of European institutions are represented in the various committees. The instrument is expected to be finalised and adopted by the UNIDROIT Governing Council at its 98th session in 2019.

Recent years have seen the emergence of a growing body of rules at European level in the field of procedural law, in the wake of the enlargement of the EU competences towards judicial co-operation. The ELI/UNIDROIT project could serve as a useful tool to avoid a fragmentary and haphazard growth of European civil procedural law.

The ELI/UNIDROIT project may be considered a first attempt towards the development of other regional projects adapting the ALI/UNIDROIT Principles of Transnational Civil Procedure to the specificities of regional legal cultures, paving the way to the drafting of other regional rules.

Full information regarding the current status of the project, including all documents related to the various committees and conferences, is provided here.

UNIDROIT has included in its Work Programme 2017-2019 the preparation of Transnational Principles of Effective Enforcement to bridge the gaps of the ALI/ UNIDROIT Principles of Transnational Civil Procedure in this regard.

The right to effective enforcement of judgments (and arbitral awards) represents an integral part of the fundamental right to a fair and effective procedure. Effective enforcement mechanisms have also an economic significance and are generally considered a fundamental criterion for the assessment and evaluation of national economies and for credit rating purposes.

Legal reforms and recently adopted legislation at domestic and regional levels document an increasing concern about inefficient enforcement mechanisms at national and transnational level. Transnational Principles of Enforcement could provide a helpful guideline for legislators wishing to improve their national law, while at the same time contributing to the emergence of common minimum standards for national procedures as the necessary basis of the improvement of international cooperation in this area.

A preliminary feasibility study was conducted by Rolf Stürner, Emeritus Professor at the University of Freiburg (Germany) and former co-reporter of the ALI/UNIDROIT Principles of Transnational Civil Procedure, and submitted to the Governing Council at its 95th session (2016). In view of the low priority allocated to the topic, work of preparation of Transnational Principles of Enforcement will commence after work is completed on the preparation of European Rules of Civil Procedure.  Access the Effective Enforcement Webpage