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Understanding Private International Law

Private international law (PRIL) [as opposed to Public International Law (PUIL)] is, ironically, domestic law. Ontario has it's own PRIL, Arizona it's own, Malaysia it's own - and so on. That's because one 'foot' of a PRIL case is always 'local', here it's in Ontario (or at least in Canada).

PRIL Law is really just civil litigation with some international aspect, typically a foreign-located party. Once you get an international aspect in the case then you have the possibility that the comfortable and familiar legal things that we are so used to may be replaced with their foreign counterparts. For instance, who's to say that just because you sue someone in an Ontario court, that your case is going to stay there - if they live in China? Say you live in Ontario, take a Cuban vacation and got injured on the Cuban beach - where do you sue in tort? Say you live in Ontario, and want to sue your email service provider that is headquartered in California, and you have agreed toa 'venue selection clause' that attorns to a California venue (geographical jurisdiction), with California law governing - what do you do?. The possible permutations are boundless - that's one reason that the PRIL field is also called 'Conflict of Laws'.

Experience in these sorts of cases have shown common issues that parties fight over, enough that the field of PRIL has developed substantially and will certainly continue to do so. The main issues are:

. Venue: which country shall the case be located in?

. Law: which country's law applies?

Venue and law usually coincide, but not always. This situation is rendered more likely by the tendency of large, international corporations to insert 'venue selection clauses' in their standard consumer contracts - clauses which the Canadian courts have sometimes viewed as unfair, so a California court can be replaced by an Ontario court - but in that case, whose law rules? Some venue selection clauses even opt for a non-Canadian non-court forum, typically a private arbitration firm (such as is accomodated for within Ontario law in the Arbitration).

The permutations increase again. The field is all the more exciting for the fact that it is likely that this is going to be the system in which a truly 'international' civil law system will evolve.


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Last modified: 21-01-23
By: admin