The Sixth Edition updates Professor Weintraub’s much cited and quoted comments on the conflict of laws. The discussion integrates how European Union regulations, the Japanese code, and other foreign laws, deal with the same issues. International commercial transaction have become commonplace. Many injuries and deaths have their causes or their victims abroad. It is therefore imperative that the course in conflict of law include study of how foreign countries treat the course’s major topics of judicial jurisdiction, choice of law, and recognition and enforcement of judgments.
A Hague convention controls service of process abroad.. The sanction for not effecting service in accordance with the convention is dismissal of the action. In the landmark opinion setting due process standards for personal jurisdiction, Asahi Metal Industry v. Superior Court, Justice O’Connor stated that an important factor in asserting jurisdiction over a foreign defendant. is “the Federal interest in Government’s foreign relations policies.” A United States court should not give offense to a friendly foreign country by exercising jurisdiction considered exorbitant in the foreign defendant’s country. To know whether the defendant’s country or widely accepted international standards considers the basis of jurisdiction unreasonable, it is necessary know the law of that country and those standards. Apparently the court, unanimous in not allowing jurisdiction over the Japanese defendant, was not aware that six years before Asahi, the Supreme Court of Japan indicated that it would approve a Japanese court’s taking jurisdiction under comparable circumstances; or aware that then and now any court in the European Union would assert jurisdiction.
The Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and the American Law Institute proposed a new master choice-of-law provision for the Uniform Commercial Code. State after state rejected the proposed section. The Commissioners and the Institute withdrew the section and reverted to the former provision. The European Union has a carefully crafted regulation on the law applicable to contractual obligations. Perhaps using the EU regulation as an example would have avoided the fatal flaws in U.C.C.’s aborted choice-of-law provision and would permit a substitute provision more satisfactory than one that was drafted sixty years ago.
These are a few examples, discussed in the Sixth Edition, of how knowledge of foreign conflicts law helps United States judges and lawyers make better decisions and arguments.
The coverage of choice-of-law and forum-selection agreements includes model provisions that avoid the ambiguities and omissions that repeatedly result in litigating the scope of the agreements. There is detailed commentary on current issues, including the Class Action Fairness Act; the constitutionality of an amendment to a state constitution barring same-sex marriage; the “Italian torpedo”; and “libel tourism”, or as it is referred to in the states that have enacted statutes to protect against it, “libel terrorism.” Also included is a summary and evaluation of law and economics literature on choice of law. The 12 chapters are: Introduction (including a summary of conflicts scholarship); Domicile (introducing choice-of-law and jurisdictional issues that subsequent chapters explore); Pervasive Problems (including substantive-procedural characterization, renvoi, dépeçage, public policy. notice and proof of foreign law); Jurisdiction to Adjudicate; Marriage, Divorce, Custody, and Support; Torts; Contracts; Property; Constitutional Limitations on Choice of Law; Choice of Law in the Federal Courts; Judgments; International Problems (including extraterritorial application of public law,. the act-of-state doctrine. protection of investments in foreign countries, state acts interfering with foreign relations).