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contract governance; Hayek; interventionism paternalism; law merchant; lex mercatoria; Polanyi; Social Norms; transnational commercial law; transnational private regulatory governance


The paper focuses on the arguments scholars have been giving in supporting or in rejecting the thesis of an 'autonomous transnational legal order'. Focusing on the example of the 'law merchant' (lex mercatoria), the paper aims at tracing the models of law and, more comprehensively, of the socio-economical as well as the legal-political order that work in the background of the lex mercatoria debate. It is from such a perspective, that it becomes possible to recognize parallels in the national as well as transnational debates around normative (ideological and political) justifications as well as attacks on allegedly 'free markets', regulatory intervention, judicial activism or state paternalism. Ultimately, what emerges is a picture of a 'transnational replay' of many of the well-known contentions with regard to the role of the state in regulating economic activities, as they have been made in nation-state based discussions since the late 19th and all throughout the 20th centuries.