rules for international commercial disputes. Later, when the project was incorporated within the framework of UNIDROIT in 2000, work on transnational principles started. Principles, which are less specific and broader than rules of procedure, may be better fit for the harmonisation of civil procedure. The fundamental principles that have been identified concern, amongst other things, the independence and impartiality of the court, the right to engage a lawyer and the right to be heard. An example of a principle that in our opinion cannot be classified as fundamental is the principle that the proceedings shall ordinarily be conducted in the language of the court.
The drafters of the principles claim in their introductory paragraph that their principles may be implemented by a national system in different manners: either by statute or a set of rules or by way of an international treaty. Case-law of national courts could in their opinion also play a role.
3. Trends and Developments in the national systems of civil procedure Civil procedure changes quickly. Throughout the world several general trends and developments can be perceived.
First of all, there is the age-old problem of high costs and undue delay (Van Rhee, 2004). High costs and undue delay are according to some currently even more problematic than in the past due to the increase in litigation rates during the last few decades (Zuckerman, 1999, 42). Various strategies have been employed to fight this problem. The cheapest, and therefore a popular strategy is the introduction of new rules of civil procedure. Reorganising the courts and additional funding is another approach. A change in procedural culture is a third option. This option is currently advocated in countries like England and The Netherlands. In practice combinations of these approaches may be chosen.
Undue delay and high costs may give rise to a review of the triangular relationship between the judge and the parties or aspects of it. A distinction is often made between two theoretical extremes: the inquisitorial model and the adversarial model (Jolowicz, 2003). In a purely adversarial system the judge acts as an umpire. He does nothing but listen to what the parties put before him and declares a ‘winner’ in his judgement. In a pure inquisitorial procedure the judge has an active, dominant role. He is, for example, involved in the framing of the issues and the gathering of the evidence. Neither extremes exist in practice. Nevertheless, the United States of America and, before the introduction of the 1998 Civil Procedure Rules, England are often seen as examples of systems tending towards the adversarial model. The Civil Law systems are categorised as less adversarial (the adjective ‘inquisitorial’ instead of ‘less adversarial’ is often used by English and American authors). This is due to the fact that in these systems the judge is more active than his Anglo-American counterpart. The differences, however, can easily be exaggerated. Throughout most systems of civil procedure the parties enjoy a certain degree of autonomy. The decision whether or not to initiate legal proceedings is left to their decision, they decide about the subject-matter that is put before the court, and it is also usually the parties who decide whether or not to make use of available procedural techniques and instruments.
The role of the judge is changing or has changed in many jurisdictions. As stated above, this happened in Austria at an early moment as a result of the 1895 Code if Civil Procedure (Oberhammer & Domej, 2005). French law gradually changed from 1935 onwards, giving the juge chargé de suivre la procedure (the expression juge-rapporteur became more common) and later the juge de la mise en état certain case management powers (Wijffels, 2005). Recent changes in English law also reveal a clear shift in control over the procedure from the parties to the judge. Lord Woolf, the ‘father’ of the 1998 English Civil Procedure Rules, identified the