Statute, Article 38: General Principles of Law
(2,028 words)

paragraph 376 in volume 3, chapter 27, The Decision

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The reference in head (c) to ‘general principles of law’ has given rise to significant controversy among publicists.1 The better view appears to be that this provision was intended as an ultimate safeguard against the possibility of non liquet at least for the decision in a contentious case.2 In this respect it does not refer to general principles of international or of internal law, but is broader and extends to general principles of abstract jurisprudence as such. The contrary ext…

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Malcolm N. Shaw, “Statute, Article 38: General Principles of Law”, in: Rosenne's Law and Practice of the International Court: 1920-2015. Consulted online on 21 February 2019 <>
First published online: 2017
First print edition: 20161001

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