Applicable law
Applicable law

The following Dispute Resolution guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Applicable law
  • What is meant by ‘applicable law’?
  • Contract disputes
  • Contract disputes—parties have chosen the applicable law
  • Contract disputes—parties have failed to choose the applicable law
  • Non contractual disputes–determining the applicable law
  • Hague Principles on Choice of Law in International Contracts
  • What impact does an English law clause have in the absence of a jurisdiction clause?
  • How do domestic courts apply the laws of another country?

Brexit: The UK's departure from the EU on exit day, ie Friday 31 January 2020, has implications for practitioners considering applicable law. For guidance, see: Cross border considerations—checklist—Applicable law—Brexit specific.

This Practice Note provides a route map to the relevant rules governing how to determine which country’s laws will apply to a given dispute. It is split into contractual and non-contractual disputes, as different considerations apply in each case.

What is meant by ‘applicable law’?

Cross-border issues in disputes can arise very easily in a world where international travel, trade and communication is the norm. On a daily basis contracts are concluded between parties operating on different continents; goods and services are delivered across national borders; and accidents befall people in countries far removed from where they habitually live and work.

Where there is a cross-border element to a claim, there are two key questions for parties and their lawyers—in which country should the claim be commenced, and which country’s laws should apply?

The first question is concerned with jurisdiction. For guidance on this aspect of cross-border disputes, see: Introduction to jurisdiction—overview and related content.

The second question is concerned with applicable law.

Contract disputes

Where there is a cross-border element to a contractual dispute, the rules for determining the applicable law will largely depend on two factors—the date on which the