Private client and private international law—summary of main principles
Private client and private international law—summary of main principles

The following Private Client practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Private client and private international law—summary of main principles
  • What is private international law?
  • Meaning of ‘foreign law’
  • Characterisation or classification
  • Characterisation of the cause of action
  • Characterisation of a rule of law
  • Renvoi
  • Single renvoi
  • Double renvoi
  • Incidental question
  • More...

Private client and private international law—summary of main principles

What is private international law?

The branch of English law known as private international law (PIL) (or the conflict of laws, in contradistinction to both the ordinary local or domestic law of England and public international law) is concerned with cases having a foreign element. By a 'foreign element' is meant a connection with some system of law other than English law.

The conflict of laws rules are part of the domestic laws of a particular jurisdiction and can differ from one jurisdiction to another. When events or transactions involving civil and commercial matters are not confined within the borders of a single country, the domestic legal systems of the different countries involved may have substantive laws that govern the subject matter of the legal dispute in very different ways. PIL rules allow for some necessary adjustment between these different substantive laws.

English PIL consists of the rules that an English court applies in deciding a matter with a foreign element. Depending on the characterisation of the cause of action and the issue in dispute between the parties, the English court may decide that the issue should be governed by foreign, rather than English law.

PIL rules differ between countries. There is no one universally recognised system, although progress has been made in recent years towards the harmonisation of PIL rules

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