A recent article in The Economist (here) notes the dominance of British and US law in cross-border deals. Ninety-one of the world’s 100 top-grossing law firms have their headquarter in Britain or the USA. However, it says “The immediate threat to American and British law comes from a trend that dispenses with courts altogether.” Parties to cross-border deals generally use private arbitration (with its benefits of confidentiality, speed and lower costs), but in arbitration “London and New York are less dominant”.
Asian and South American countries are beginning to insist on having arbitrations in their own jurisdictions (generally becoming the “seat” of the arbitration so local laws apply to the proceedings unless agreed otherwise). This threatens the British/US dominance, but The Economist notes that developing countries may also lose out. If local arbitration reduces pressure from multi-nationals and locals for simpler laws, better courts and less political corruption, it may delay attempts to establish legal systems that work for everyone.
The article notes that a survey of general counsels around the world asking which jurisdiction they found most challenging showed China as second, after the USA!