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Conflict of Laws
Involves different approaches to determining the applicable law to a given case.

Additional Law Flashcards




Traditional Conflicts Rules

Tort: Lex loci delicti

Contract: Lex loci contractus

Land: Lex situs

Procedure: Lex fori

Marriage: Lex loci celebrationis

Corporations: Lex loci incorporationis

Characteristics of First Restatement


Policy-blind: "Let the chips fall where they may"

Multi-lateral: Looks at state connections with the facts

Strict territorialism


Main goal - uniformity

"Last Act" Doctrine

To determine the location of the cause of action, look to what state P was in and when the last act necessary to establish P's final element giving him a tort claim took place.

"Vested Rights" Doctrine
If the final injury happened in State A and State A's laws recognize the tort claim at issue, State A's rights to adjudicate the claim best at the moment the final element takes place.
Statute of Frauds is governed by place of...
Contract formation, NOT performance. (Linn v. Employers Reinsurance Corp)

When does parties' intent control law of K?


When a K, on its face, is to be performed in a state other than the state in which it was signed, it is assumed in the absence of anything to the contrary that the parties intended the law of the state of performance to control. (Poole v. Perkins)

Exceptions to lex loci celebrationis

A marriage valid where celebrated is valid everywhere, EXCEPT if the marriage violates the interpreting state's POSITIVE LAW or NATURAL LAW.

Exception to lex situs

Law of the state where the land is located governs, EXCEPT when there is an issue as to the capacity of a party to enter into a mortgage note; then the law of the place of the K governs, not the land where the property subject to the note sits.


Splitting up a problem into different issues so that different state laws may govern each Not an element of traditional approach - Beal disfavored in all but exceptional circumstances.


1. Renvoi approaches

2. Which does Beal endorse?

  • Reject the renvoi - State A turns to its own choice of law rule, which refers to State B, and when State B attempts to return it, State A rejects the return.
  • Accept the revoi - State A turns to its own choice of law rule, which refers to State B, and when State B sends it back to State A, State A accepts and applies State A law.
  • Decide the question exactly as State B would - Turn to State A conflicts rule, which turns to State B; State A tries to figure out how State B would handle it. 2.

**For the sake of consistency, Beal rejects the revoi; unless the case involves real estate, and the Beal endorses third approach - decide the case as the other court would.


In Holzer:

What was Court of Appeals' rationale in upholding the German employment K on public policy grounds?

  • Strict territorialism - No matter how objectionable another state's law is, if the parties are from the foreign state and the K was formed and to be performed there, NY simply has no stake in the K.
  • Problematic enforcement - To refuse to allow a D, who has been brought into forum against its will, to assert a defense under foreign law would greatly prejudice D.
Penal Law Rule

A forum state will not help another state punish people or enforce another state's tax laws. After choice of law analysis, if the other state's law is chosen and it is determined to be punitive in nature, apply the forum law.

Grouping of Contacts/Center of Gravity/Contacts-Counting Approach

Instead of regarding as conclusive the parties' intention or place of making/performance of K, look to the law of th eplace which has the most significant contacts with the matter in dispute. (Haag v. Barnes)


Application of Currie's Interest Analysis

  1. Look at both substantive laws and determine their underlying policy goals.
  2. Determine what group of people the laws are designed to protect or benefit.  Assume that any state with policies like this is interested in protecting people that have shown allegiance to that state.
  3. Determine whether there is a true conflict, false conflict, or unprovided-for case...

a. If true - apply the law of the forum.

b. If false - apply law of only interested state.

c. If unprovided-for case (neither state's interest would be advanced) - apply law of forum


* If false or unprovided-for case, apply law of forum unless there is a good reason to switch to the other state's law.



Neumeier Rules:

New York Court of Appeals Approach


(Babcock v. Jackson, Tooker v. Lopez, Neumeier v. Kuehner, Boy Scouts)


1. Common Domicile: If parties have common domicile - law of the place of common domicile applies.

2. Law of Locus: If locus would protect its domiciliary, apply law of locus.

3. Catch-All: If neither 1 nor 2 apply, use the law of the locus unless

  • a. shifting from presumptive choice would advance interests of the forum
  • shift would not impair the "smooth working of the multi-state system"
  • shift would not produce "great uncertaintly for litigants"
Currie's Developed Approach

In case of true conflict: Weigh the interests of the states with competing interests (look at actual laws of competing states). 


**Note: Really look at whether the state has actually passed a law following through on its interest.  An actual attempt at regulation depends on the statute's terms.


If state has made an honest attempt to regulate, it becomes a false conflict - apply law of the more interested state.


Comparative Impairment

(Harrah's AC)


Governs whether a tavern-keeper can be sued for serving an already-inebriated person when for injury that that person causes to another after leaving the establishment.



Factors that overcome presumption of place of injury in Neumeier Rule #3 (Catch All)


1. Is the other state's policy advanced through the application of its law rather than the law of the place of the injury?


2. Does application of the other law upset the expectations of the parties?


3. Does application of the other law disrupt the function of the multi-state system?


Application of

Leflar's Approach, a.k.a.

"The Better Rule"


Factors (in no particular order):


1. Predictability (not very weighty)

2. Maintenance of interstate and international order

3. Simplification of the judicial task

4. Advancement of forum's interests

5. *Application of the better rule of law


Application of Second Restatement

"More Significant Relationship" Test


1. Find relevant section of 2nd Restatement for the presumptive rule. (Torts = 145) Keep presumption in the back of your mind.


2. Go to Section 6 factors:

  • Needs of the interstate system
  • Relevant policies of the forum v. relevant policies of other interested states
  • Protection of the justified expectations of the parties
  • Predictability and uniformity of result
  • Ease in determination and application of the law applied.

3. Consider:

  • Does the state have enough relevant contacts for the court to uphold the purpose of its law?
  • Are the parties domiciliaries?
  • Where was the conduct? 
  • Center of parties' relationship?



Full Faith & Credit:

General Rule

(Durfee v. Duke)


"Full faith and credit requires every state to give to a judgment at least the res judicata effect which the judgment would be accorded in the state which rendered it."


*Full faith and credit should be given to judicial proceedings, but not to recognize other states' laws.


Unified Constitutional Test:

Is your choice of law constitutional?

(Allstate Insurance Co. v. Hague)


For the choice of law of a particular state to be constitutional, the state whose law is chosen must have significant contacts with the dispute so that it has an interest, thus making the choice of that law neither arbitrary nor fundamentally unfair.


Balancing Test:


Is it constitutional for a state to close itself off from the laws of another state?

(Hughes v. Fetter




1. State's policy for closing itself off from applying foreign law; and

2. Deriability of maximum enforcement of rights created by statutes of sister states (idea is that if one state grants a right, the other should enforce it).


**Wells v. Simonds Abrasive Co. limits Hughes -- Where no state is being discriminated against, Hughes will not apply.  (Wells involved procedural issue - no state being discriminated against.)

Doctrine of Sovereign Immunity

A federal court may not hear a claim against a State without that State's permission.

What does "privileges and immunities" mean?

State law gives a certain set of legal rights to its citizens.  The dominant view is that privileges and immunities include some set of rights less than that which a state gives its own citizens.


**Note: Clark thinks this is wrong --

"The clause says 'all.'"


Erie Doctrine

What choice of law should a federal district court apply?

(Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Electric)


 In the case of conflict of laws rules, federal district court must apply the conflicts rules of the state in which it sits.


Res Judiciata and Collateral Estoppel:

Jurisdictional Exception


The fact that the second court thinks the first court may have gotten it wrong is not a good enough reason to not have to uphold its judgment.


1. Personal jurisdiction - If you had a full and fair opportunity to raise the objection in the first state and failed to do it, you will not be allowed to raise it in the second state in an attempt to avoid the judgment. (PJ is waivable - it does not affect the court's ability to adjudicate the case.)


2. **Subject matter jurisdiction - SMJ goes to the very authority of the court to adjudicate the case, and an objection is to be raised by the court sua sponte, at any time, including on appeal.  Unlike personal jurisdiction, SMJ cannot be waived.


*A court has the power to inquire into the SMJ of another state's court to render judgment, but once that inquiry determines that SMJ was proper, the court cannot inquire further.

Ex Parte "Divisible Divorce"

Separating the status of the marriage from other issues, i.e., alimony (maintenance) and custody


Rule: A state can enter a binding judgment of divorce against a non-resident spouse; however, personal jurisdiction over non-resident parties must be obtained before a court can enter binding judgments against non-residents as to custody and maintenance disputes!

Bilateral Divorce Rule

Rule: A stranger to the divorce action may collaterally attack an out-of-state divorce if the third party could have attacked it in the divorce-granting state.

"First Come, First Served" Rule

The first state to successfully assert jurisdiction over custody and support issues must be respected by other courts.


Exception to FF&C res judiciata effect

(Fall v. Eastin - US)


The state where a piece of land is situated is not required to give preclusive effect to judgments of other states dealing with the land's title.

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