Introduction: Basic Issues
“Private International Law,” as the subject of this book is generally called in civil law countries and often also in the United Kingdom, is really a misnomer. The same is true for “Conflict of Laws,” as the subject is called in the United States and most common law countries.
“Public International Law” describes the rules – whether by treaty or accepted practice – that apply to how states deal with each other. “Private International Law” focusses on the relations of private parties to each other in an international context. But it is not an international law that governs these relations: “Private International Law” is the national law of each country, applicable to international situations.
“Conflict of Laws” (or “Conflicts” for short, in American usage) suggests competition, a quest for dominance. Yet in many (if not most) cases, the question is rather which of different potentially applicable laws is the most appropriate for the problem at hand. In keeping with modern usage in the English language literature, this book will use “Conflict of Laws” or “Conflicts” for want of a more appropriate term.
This book deals with the main issues involved in litigating a civil case that has international (border-crossing) elements. Consider the following examples: The parties to a contract deal with each other from different countries or, if they are in the same country, their contract calls for performance in another. Or a person from one country injures another in a different country. Or after a...
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