This Article proposes a new classification of international texts for the purposes of interpretation and an “international interpretive rule” to be applied to those found to be “system” texts rather than “standards” texts. System texts establish an international system of cooperation or enforcement while standards texts create norms for international behavior of states or persons. The international interpretive rule would follow the tradition of fixing uniformity as a central interpretive goal for standards texts. By contrast, system texts require interpretations that best assist the achievement of the goals inherent in the international systems they establish; uniformity is only one of those goals. The Article discusses recent cases in the field of cross-border insolvency cooperation, an area in which the need for systematic cooperation is most needed and most advanced, but the approach may also apply, for example, to a system such as that which established the International Criminal Court. The Article uses its approach to compare the system-friendly interpretations applied in insolvency cases in North America with the insular interpretations recently announced in the United Kingdom.
Volume 87, No. 4, Summer 2015