International Society of Primerus Law Firms

Bridge Over Troubled Waters for International Commercial Contracts – The UNIDROIT Principles 2016, An Overview from a Long Time User

By Prof. Dr. Eckart Brödermann
Brödermann Jahn
Hamburg, Germany

Tulane (USA)/Hamburg, Germany, November 2020 – The International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (“UNIDROIT”), i.e. an inter-governmental institution with 63 member states founded in 1926, has compiled and developed general principles of contract law for international commercial contracts which can be used as background law (Bonell) for all kind of international commercial contracts. These “UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts” (“UNIDROIT Principles”) provide a functioning, tested and stable bridge over the troubled waters (Simon & Garfunkel) caused by commercial interaction between parties from different nations or even states. Based on his speech at a seminar organized in the fall 2018 by the Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law in partnership, inter alia, with the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) International Legal Affairs Network and The International Association of Primerus Law Firms Business Law Institute, the German professor and lawyer Eckart Brödermann (Germany/New York), has written an overview especially pertinent to the perspective of U.S. lawyers practicing a common law system which, distinctly from English law, includes a general good faith component. It sets forth (i) key impediments to international business by troubled waters caused by diverging national legal systems; (ii) the business need for a bridge between different national legal systems; (iii) why the UNIDROIT Principles 2016 can serve as a cost and risk reducing bridge over troubled waters; (iv) the components of the bridge including international restatements (“international UCC”) and negotiated compromises lowering all aspects of general contract law; (v) practical examples and experiences from nearly 20 years of successful practice with the UNIDROIT Principles; (vi) practical hints how to walk this bridge; and (vii) reasons for an increased use of the bridge by the legal profession because wisdom, fear and pragmatism all point towards using the UNIDROIT Principles 2016. This overview of Professor Brödermann was recently published, with some delay caused by COVID-19, in the spring issue of the Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law (Vol. 28, p. 193-257, plus 58 pages of annexes available online).

About Eckart Brödermann

The author Eckart Brödermann is (i) a professor of law at the University of Hamburg (since 2011) and (ii) founder of the boutique law firm Brödermann Jahn which is the German member of the international association of law firms Primerus and (iii) Chair of the Primerus International Practice Committee bundling approx. 2,000 lawyers in 66 jurisdictions. Trained in three jurisdictions (in Paris, Harvard, and Hamburg), Eckart has practiced with a global reach since his admission to the New York bar in 1984, since 1990 out of Hamburg, Germany. He has used the UNIDROIT Principles (first released in 1994) worldwide since 2001. He has served from 2006 to 2010 as an Official Observer to the Working Group entrusted by UNIDROIT with the preparation of the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts. In 2008, he was to motor in creating the Chinese European Arbitration Centre (“CEAC”) with the UNCITRAL based arbitration rules inviting to choose the UNIDROIT Principles as applicable rules of law. In 2018, he has published an article-by-article commentary of the UNIDROIT Principles 2016 (Wolters Kluwer/Nomos) which has been well received in approx. 35 book reviews in 20 jurisdictions (for a YouTube introduction see Eckart is a regular user of the UNIDROIT Principles, both in contracts (incl. multi-billion state related contracts) and in arbitration (incl. in a multi-billion state related arbitration).

About Brödermann Jahn

Brödermann Jahn is a German boutique law firm, established in Hamburg in 1996 ( It specializes on international and national business law and covers most aspects of cross-border business law and business in 20+ industries, often with deep industrial background. It is a “can-do” law firm, which thinks out of the box and acts in pragmatic ways to assist clients in realizing their business goals. The practice includes international contracts, avoiding and solving international disputes. Brödermann Jahn uses the UNIDROIT Principles since nearly two decades in arbitration, even in domestic litigation, and for contracts. A recent example includes a US-European and even an inter-American business relationship.


Prof. Dr. Eckart Brödermann


Phone: +49 40-37 09 05 0


The general information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.

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