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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

LAW5585M International Trade Finance Law

15 creditsClass Size: 90

Module manager: Karina Patricio Ferreira Lima

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This course provides a comprehensive understanding of the financing of international trade and its role in facilitating commercial transactions. These arrangements are crucial in shaping the global economy – according to the World Trade Organization (WTO), some 80 to 90 per cent of world trade relies on trade finance.The course analyses the legal instruments utilised in international trade finance, in particular letters of credit and standby letters of credit, against a background of general international standardisation in practice. Contrasts are made between the techniques used in international trade finance and those used primarily in domestic law. The focus is on English law but viewed from an international and comparative perspective.The course also unpacks the main international, transnational and domestic institutions involved in shaping international trade finance law and policy, including commercial banks, export-import credit agencies, the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The legal policy implications of trade finance for socioeconomic development and climate change mitigation, as well as the impact of blockchain in trade finance, are also considered.


Learning outcomes
- Understand the scope, structure and purpose of International Trade Finance law including relevant institutional structures, policy material and the economic and political context of the subject matter.
- Understand the interrelationships between national and international legal dispensations in this sphere.
- Research, collate and synthesise primary and secondary materials on International Trade Finance law.
- Undertake in depth analysis of the law and policy on specific case studies pertaining to International Trade Finance law.
- Evaluate critically the appropriateness and effectiveness of existing laws and regulation insofar as they impact on trade and business.
- Produce a substantial piece of individual written research work reflecting the above objectives.

Skills outcomes
On completion of this course, students should have acquired the following skills:
• understanding the scope, structure and purpose of international trade finance law including policy material and the economic and political context of the subject matter;
• understanding the part that financial law plays in the development of international trade;
• mastering the conceptual building blocks of a relatively discrete but interlocking body of legal knowledge;
• researching and synthesising primary and secondary materials on national and international law and policy pertaining to trade finance;
• critically evaluating the appropriateness and effectiveness of existing legal dispensations on trade finance law including their implications for business and economic activity;
• understanding the role of policy actors in the process of law formation in this sphere;
• producing a substantial piece of individual written research work reflecting the above objectives.


Introduction to the essential characteristics and instruments of international trade finance. The financing function. The nature of security and lending. The problems of open account trading, political, commercial and litigation risk. Risk mitigation and avoidance techniques. Set-off, retention of title and guarantees.

Main institutions involved in international trade finance law and policy. International trade finance and global challenges.

Methods of payment in international trade. Bills of exchange, documentary collections and documentary credits. The generic letter of credit and the Uniform Customs and Practice under which it functions. The concepts of irrevocability, autonomy and non-recourse. The legal relationships on a letter of credit. Payment mechanisms under letters of credit.

Security in international trade finance. The constructive pledge. Subrogation under guarantees and letters of credit. Standby letters of credit, performance and other bonds, bank guarantees and surety guarantees, the problem of assuring performance of contractual obligations in foreign jurisdictions.

Creditworthiness substitution and shifting litigation costs. Standardisation of international guarantee practice.

Blockchain technology and trade finance.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours134.50
Total Contact hours15.50
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

A formative assessment opportunity will be provided.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2,200 word essay70.00
Case Study1 x 1,000 word case study30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Students must attempt both components of assessment and attain an overall grade of 50% or more to pass the module. Should a student fail one of the components (i.e., attain a grade of 49% or less for it) then they will not be required to re-sit it provided that they have attained a grade of 50% or more when their weighted scores in both components are added together.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 14/09/2023 12:56:42


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