Private International Law
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Private International Law

Contemporary Challenges and Continuing Relevance

Edited by Franco Ferrari and Diego P. Fernández Arroyo

Is Private International Law (PIL) still fit to serve its function in today’s global environment? In light of some calls for radical changes to its very foundations, this timely book investigates the ability of PIL to handle contemporary and international problems, and inspires genuine debate on the future of the field.
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Chapter 5: Private international law and the question of universal values

Ralf Michaels


Private international law presumes, and responds to, plurality – of laws and of values. How does it then respond to ideas about universal values? In fact, the question involves three tensions: between formalism and values, between private international law and substantive law, and between plurality and universality. Private international law cannot isolate itself from questions of value, but how should it account for them? Attempts to explicitly take on conflicts of laws as conflicts of substantive values, as for example in the better law theory, have intrinsic weaknesses. Attempts to resolve such conflicts in the name of universal conflicts values are more promising. But existing conflicts values are in conflict among themselves and there is no set of meta-values that can resolve these conflicts. Ultimately, the chapter suggests two universal values that are specific to conflict of laws: responsivity and technicality.

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