Conflict of Laws

B745 is taught by H. Buxbaum, S. Sanders

Transactions, relationships, and conduct of various kinds often have contacts with more than one state. For instance, a contract may involve a buyer and a seller in two different states; a couple may get married in one state and then move to another; a product manufactured in one state may cause injury in another. (Similarly, transactions, relationships, and conduct may have contacts with more than one country.) This reality generates a number of legal questions that are relevant both to transaction planning and to dispute resolution. To start with, what are the limits of a state s (or a country s) power to regulate a relationship or a dispute that is not purely local? If two states have that power, and both seek to apply their law (which may differ in substance) to the same relationship or dispute, how should we choose between them? Can the parties to a transaction avoid potential problems by simply choosing the applicable law themselves, and, if so, are there any limits to that form of party autonomy? Given the realities of interstate and international commerce, these issues are of obvious relevance to lawyers in many different fields of law practice. They also raise fascinating and complex questions about the limits of sovereignty and the policy considerations underlying the exercise of sovereign authority.

The field known as conflict of laws comprises three major sub-areas: (1) jurisdiction, (2) choice of law, and (3) enforcement of foreign judgments. We will cover all of those topics, although the primary focus of the course will be on the choice-of-law process. Over the years, many different approaches have been developed to guide that process. We will examine those approaches and consider how they work in application. The course also considers issues such as the role of the United States Constitution in limiting choice-of-law abuses, particularly courts& 039; unwarranted choice and application of their own law.

There are no prerequisites for this course, and it is equally useful for 2Ls and 3Ls.