This study considers court reform programmes sponsored by the IMF and World Bank in Indonesia and Venezuela. It aims to broaden the frame of reference of ‘globalisation’ in law beyond the two traditional sites of human rights and trade. Drawing on a tradition of legal pluralism, it investigates the various sources of ‘global’ or universalising pressures on the law. The sources and impacts of these efforts may derive from and benefit or disadvantage specific groups in various locations. They will also promote or inhibit particular political, social or economic projects. The study concludes that various constituencies and impulses to reform refer to different versions of the ‘universal’ for their conception of right and legitimacy. These are neither inherently local nor unambiguously global. Local religious or egalitarian movements may refer to universal religious or political values just as interests in fair commercial dealing can call on international legal norms. In contrast to the local sites where law is performed, these universal sites exist in a multitude of indigenous, religious, political and legal imagined communities, each of which may be invoked in attempts to reform local practice.