Application of the Public Policy Exception in the Context of International Contracts – The Rome I Regulation Approach

Ragne Piir


The article examines the role and employment of the public-policy exception in private international law from the perspective of the law applicable to contractual obligations. To begin with, prerequisites for recourse to the public-policy clause are investigated, to illustrate why this exceptional clause is likely to come into play rather infrequently, as indeed should be the case. The article then analyses the relativity of ordre public, exploring three dimensions to be considered in the courts’ use of the public-policy exception in a particular case. In summary, the author concludes that, notwithstanding its highly restrictive application criteria and, therefore, infrequent application, dispensing with the public-policy exception would be unthinkable even within the domain of international contracts. The regulation of public policy in the Rome I Regulation constitutes an abstract and flexible instrument, thereby allowing appropriate response to the issues of a changing society.


Law applicable to contracts; Rome I; mandatory rules; public policy; ordre public; protection of fundamental values

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Journal DOI:
ISSN 1406-1082 (printed matter)
ISSN 1406-5509 (online)