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When the Governing Council of UNIDROIT decided in 1994 to publish the UNIDROIT Principles suggested their widest distribution and stressed the need to monitor their use with a view to a possible re-evaluation of them at some time in the future”. After two interlocutory reports by the UNIDROIT Secretariat containing first information as to the distribution of the UNIDROIT Principles in practice, in view of their more than favorable reception in the international business and legal community - up to now more than 3,000 copies of the volume containing the integral version of the UNIDROIT Principles have been sold worldwide - in September 1996 a formal inquiry was launched with a view to gathering more detailed information as to the different ways in which the UNIDROIT Principles have been used in practice so far. A detailed questionnaire was prepared and circulated to some 1000 individuals chosen from among those who had shown a particular interest in the UNIDROIT Principles during their preparation and/or after their publication.The inquiry turned out to be a great success. As of the end of December 1996 208 5 replies (more than 20% of the total number of questionnaires sent out) had been received. As confirmation of the truly worldwide distribution of the UNIDROIT Principles, replies came from 39 countries of all the major regions of the world, ranging from large countries such as the United States, Japan and Russia to smaller ones such as Uruguay, the United Emirates and Estonia. More than half of those who replied are practicing lawyers and in house counsel, the rest being professors. Many of them indicated they were also arbitrators.
This paper is intended to provide, also in the light of the results of this inquiry, a first overview of the experience of the UNIDROIT Principles in practice in the first two years following their publication. After a brief account of the reception of the UNIDROIT Principles in academic and professional circles and their use as teaching materials (I), attention will be focused on the other ways in which the UNIDROIT Principles have been used: in particular as a model for national and international legislation (II); as a guide in contract negotiations (III); as the law chosen by the parties to govern their contract (IV); and as rules of law referred to in judicial proceedings (V). Finally, a survey will be provided of awards and decisions applying the UNIDROIT Principles (VI).
I. - Reception in academic and professional circles
The UNIDROIT Principles are meeting with the greatest interest in academic and professional circles. Over the years they have been the subject of numerous seminars and colloquia in many parts of the world. Some of them were held even before the adoption of the final version of the UNIDROIT Principles: this was the case of the seminar held in January 1992 at the Law School of the University of Miami, the seminar held in December 1993 in Rome organized by the Centre for Latin American Studies and the Centre for Comparative and Foreign Studies4 and the seminar held in February 1994 at the Law School of Tulane University in New Orleans.5 Of the seminars held after the publication of the UNIDROIT Principles, mention may be made among others of the seminars held in October 1994 in Paris at the International Chamber of Commerce and in November 1994 in Milan at the National and International Court of Arbitration,6 the seminar held in October 1995 in Rome organized by the Journal Diritto del commercio internazionale,7 the Inter-American Congress held in November 1996 at the University of Carabobo, Valencia (Venezuela)8 and the seminar held in November 1996 at the
Universidad Panamericana in Mexico City.9 The UNIDROIT Principles are, moreover, the subject of a growing number of scholarly 9 writings published in the most important legal journals world-wide10 and, what is even more important, their reception has generally been very positive. A particula