Overriding mandatory rules (Ro: Norme de aplicare imediată, De: Eingriffsnormen, Fr: Lois de police, It: Norme di applicazione necessaria, Es: Leyes de policía, BH/Cr/Ser: Prevladavajuće obvezne odredbe, Gr.: κανόνες δημοσίας τάξης, Cz.: imperativní ustanovení) (See also: mandatory rules, choice of law) = provisions considered to be crucial for protecting the general public interest and therefore cannot be derogated in any way, even in the cases when parties made a choice of law or a foreign law applies to the legal matter. They mostly fall under public law, with a few exemptions (such as 'publicisation of private law'). 

Overriding mandatory rules are not to be confused with mandatory rules. While mandatory rules cannot be derogated by a contract and are binding for a certain legal system but not automatically for the other (e.g. the essential contract elements in one country are not necessarily essential contract elements in the other country), overriding mandatory rules are in fact mandatory rules in international environment (e.g. the foreign trade embargo does not automatically trigger the mandatory rules of a country which imposed it, but however triggers overriding mandatory rules instantly since the free movement of goods and services is considered to be a general interest of EU) and their application is compulsory regardless of the laws of each party. The distinction between these two terms is made only at EU level and confirmed through Article 9 of Rome I Treaty, while the common law systems do not recognize any distinction between these terms. 

Useful links

Legislation - Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I) [English]

Case Law -  European Court of Justice, Jean-Claude Arblade and Arblade & Fils SARL (C-369/96) and Bernard Leloup, Serge Leloup and Sofrage SARL (C-376/96), 1999 – European Court of Justice, United Antwerp Maritime Agencies (Unamar) NV v Navigation Maritime Bulgare, 2013

Online Publications - Lorenzo, S.S, 2010, Choice of Law and Overriding Mandatory Rules in International Contracts after Rome I, Unliquidated, or Disputed?, Yearbook of Private International Law, Volume 12 -  2671_2014_007_003_005.pdf - Laura Maria, B, 2014, Overriding Mandatory Rules as a Vehicle for Weaker Party Protection in European Private International Law, Erasmus Law Review No.3


Hay, P., Varady, T., 2009, Resolving International Conflicts: Liber Amicorum, Budapest: Central European University Press

Hay, P., 2015, European Conflicts Law After the American ‘Revolution’ – Comparative Notes, European legal Forum 

Symeon, S, 2014, Codifying Choice of Law Around the World: An International Comparative Analysis, New York: Oxford University Press


By Naida Softic