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Litigating disputes in international civil and commercial cases presents a number of special challenges. Which country's courts have jurisdiction, and where is it advantageous to sue? Given the international elements of the case, which country's law will the court apply? Finally, if a successful plaintiff cannot find enough local assets, what does it take to have the judgement recognized and enforced in a country with assets? This extensively updated second edition Advanced Introduction addresses these questions, providing a concise overview of the field.

This book deals with the problems that arise in international litigation in civil and commercial cases. Some are familiar problems (for instance, when does a court have jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant?), except that the international context adds complexity. Other problems are unique to the settlement of international disputes; for instance, does another country's law apply to the substance of the case, and how does one get a domestic judgment recognized and enforced in a foreign country?

The presentation is problem-oriented and takes a comparative-law approach. The three parts of the book present the principal problems parties face in dealing with cases with an international dimension. The parties who deal with each other may be in different countries, or facts or elements of the case may involve more than the state where suit is brought (the forum state).

There are no international law solutions to these problems, despite the name of the subject of this Advanced Introduction. “Private international law” is the national law of each country dealing with international cases involving private law subject matters. Answers to the litigation problems identified and discussed in the text may therefore differ somewhat, or even substantially, depending on the national law lens through which these problems are viewed. For this reason, this volume uses a comparative approach.

There are, of course, many nuances in the national laws around the world (see the reference below). But two main “systems” (again with differences within each) stand out, at least in the Western world: the civil law system, derived and developed from Roman law, which is the basis of much of European, South American, and some other legal systems; and the common law system that spread from England to the United States, Canada, and the British Commonwealth. To narrow things down, this volume compares – in the main, but not exclusively – the law of the European Union as largely representative of civil-law solutions, and the approaches followed in the United States for the common law.

It would be a vast, indeed misleading, overstatement to say that the systems show evidence of converging. Nonetheless, and with problems and the need for solutions being similar, some solutions do resemble each other. As the Conclusions in Chapter 6 suggest, European law has made particular strides in evolving a modern Conflicts law, in some respects adopting some of the flexibility that characterizes American law but doing this in a circumspect and very principled way. Work on the new Restatement (Third) of Conflict of Laws in the United States and the successful elaboration by Hague Conference on Private International Law of a multilateral convention on the recognition and enforcement of judgments may further advance agreement on substantive policies and coordinated or respectful domestic procedures in the not-too-distant future.

Obviously, an Advanced Introduction can only sketch the principal problems and offer a survey of answers and solutions. To keep the text uncluttered, footnotes have been kept to a minimum. References to the important statutory texts of the European Union are given in an Appendix.

Readers who might want to follow up on some topics or study the subject in greater depth may find the following helpful:

  • For American law, my co-authored treatise or extensive student study aid:

    • Hay, Borchers, Symeonides, & Whytock, Conflict of Laws (6th edition, West Publishing Co. 2018).

    • Hay, Conflict of Laws – Black Letter Outlines (9th edition, West Academic Publishing 2023).

  • For British law, two classic commentaries:

    • Cheshire, North, & Fawcett, Private International Law (15th edition, Oxford University Press 2017).

    • Dicey, Morris, & Collins, Conflict of Laws (16th edition, Sweet & Maxwell 2022).

  • For an extensive overview:

    • Basedow, Rühl, Ferrari, & de Miguel Asension (eds.), Encyclopedia of Private International Law, 4 vols. (Vol. 3, with 80 national reports) (Edward Elgar Publishing 2017).

Portions of this text were completed while I was on teaching assignments in Europe, where I also had the benefit of discussions and exchanges with European colleagues, to whom I am grateful. I am also especially grateful to my long-time associate, Daniel J. Levin, J.D., for his helpful review of the final manuscript.