Shipping Contract Jurisdiction
Under English law, whether a particular contract is, in fact, subject to English Law is a matter to be determined by reference to the contract itself.
First and foremost, the contract may actually stipulate that it is to be governed by English Law and that disputes are to be referred to English Court or Arbitration Proceedings.
In the absence of such a stipulation reference must be made to the Nationalities of the parties and the Countries within which performance of the contract is to take place. If these point overwhelmingly to one country, the law of that country may apply.
Finally, note that there may be a difference between the governing law of a contract and the jurisdiction in which claims may be brought. For example, in the absence of a specific provision in the contract, the High Court in England might consider that it has jurisdiction over a particular dispute, whilst applying the law of some other country to determine the rights and responsibilities of the parties.
The British government, like the governments of other countries, is considering ratification of the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. If ratified this will fundamentally alter the existing structure of these contracts.