The Cape Town Convention

In September last year, the third conference on the Cape Town Convention took place at the Law Faculty in Oxford. This treaty deals with international interests in mobile equipment, and was adopted in late 2001. There are three protocols, dealing with aircraft and aircraft engines; rail and space. The details of dates and entry into force can be located on the Unidroit site. The CTC is one of the most successful commercial treaties, having been ratified by 60 countries already.

My interest in the Convention comes about from the project that is associated with it – the Cape Town Convention Academic Project. This project was established three years ago under the auspices of Unidroit , the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, and the AWG, the Aviation Working Group, and is managed by the University of Washington School of Law and the University of Oxford Faculty of Law.

The leading academics involved in the project, Professor Jeffrey Wool and Professor Sir Roy Goode realised the importance of collecting the legislative, judicial, regulatory and other related material pertaining to the Convention as it was created. This would provide a useful and comprehensive repository for the practitioners and academics in this relatively recent field of transnational commercial law.

Interestingly for law librarians, there are several core principles which have been adopted from the outset to distinguish this collection. It provides materials freely for research and educational purposes, it updates the materials on an ongoing basis, it provides quality control over the materials selected, and it aims to be a comprehensive and searchable repository for those with an interest in the CTC. Additionally:

  1. there is very close involvement in the project of the experts involved in this field
  2. the Cape Town Convention Journal is provided free online
  3. translations are provided for some of the key documents
  4. there are self-instruction notes and teaching materials
  5. there is a bibliography of Law and Economics Research

From the website, here is an outline of the contents of the repository:

  • Operative legal texts – Containing current versions of the Convention, Protocols, and Regulations and Procedures for the International Registry
  • Developmental and legislative materials – Containing preparatory materials, acts and proceedings from the diplomatic conferences, and materials contemplated by such conferences, including the Official Commentaries by chapter
  • International registry materials – Containing current and developmental materials related to each international registry
  • National implementation materials – Containing national documents and legal materials relating to CTC ratification and implementation by contracting states, and summary notes describing the actions taken by such contracting states which link relevant documents
  • Annotations on Prof. Goode’s official commentaries – Containing the text of the Official Commentaries by chapter and annotations thereto
  • Reporting on judicial activity – Containing documents associated with judicial actions related to the CTC
  • Reporting on administrative activity – Containing documents associated with administrative actions related to the CTC
  • Scholarly articles – Containing scholarly articles and books on the CTC
  • Practitioners’ and professional materials – Containing materials intended for attorneys and other professionals working with the CTC
  • Economic assessment materials – Containing documents relating to the economic assessment of the CTC
  • CTC instructional materials – Containing descriptive and self-instructional materials on the CTC and supplemental modules integrating the CTC into established academic classes

For anyone with an interest in the field of transnational commercial law, this is a resource that will certainly be welcome and could be very useful. For colleagues who deal with Private International Law, this free resource is worth knowing about for your FCIL arsenal.

Ruth Bird