Conflict of Laws

The Conflict of Laws, or Private International Law, is concerned with private (mainly commercial) law cases, where the facts which give rise to litigation contain one or more foreign elements. A court may be asked to give relief for breach of a commercial contract made abroad, or to be performed abroad, or to which one or both of the parties is not English. It may be asked to grant relief in respect of an alleged tort occurring abroad, or allow a claimant to trace and recover funds which were fraudulently removed, and so on. In each case, the court must decide whether to apply laws of English or foreign origin to determine the matters in dispute. This exercise in identifying the law applicable is the second of three areas around which this course in the Conflict of Laws is centred. Prior to this comes the issue of jurisdiction; that is, when an English court will find that it has, and will exercise, jurisdiction over a defendant who is not English, or over a dispute which may have little to do with England or with English law. Closely allied to this is the question of what, if anything, may be done to impede proceedings which are underway in a foreign court but which (in the view of one of the parties or of the court) really should not be there at all. The remaining third of the course is concerned with the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, to determine what effect, if any, these have in the English legal order.

In England, the subject has had an increasingly European dimension, not only in relation to the jurisdiction of courts and the recognition and enforcement of judgements but also for choice of law as it applies to contractual and non-contractual obligations.

The purpose of the course is to examine the areas studied by reference to case law and statute, and to aim at acquiring an understanding of the rules, their operation and inter-relationship, as would be necessary to deal with problems arising in practice in litigation with a cross border element. Those taking the course will gain an understanding of the concepts and practical applications of private international law as it applies in legal systems around the world.