Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Mauro Bussani and Anthony J. Sebok
Chapter 3: Tort law and conflict of laws
The law of torts and the law of conflict of laws, or private international law (PIL), intersect whenever the particular tort or the parties have significant contacts with more than one state or country. Examples of such ‘multistate’ torts would include cases in which the tortious conduct occurs in one state and the resulting injury in another (cross-border torts), or in which the conduct and the injury both occur in one state but either the tortfeasor or the victim, or both, are domiciled in, or have another significant connection with, another state. This chapter explores the question of which state’s law determines the rights and liabilities of the parties arising from a tort: the choice-of-law question. It does not discuss the question of jurisdiction, namely which court will decide the dispute, nor the recognition or enforcement of the resulting judgment in another state. For much of the twentieth century, most countries answered the choice-of-law question in the same way: by applying the law of the state where the tort occurred, the lex loci delicti. However, beginning in the 1960s, the lex loci delicti rule, at least in its inexorable version, began losing ground. This chapter discusses the current status of this rule, its exceptions, and, in some cases, its replacement with other rules, methodologies, or approaches. The discussion begins with the United States, a country with a plurilegal and uncodified PIL system that has experienced a virtual revolution in the handling of tort conflicts.
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