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Law Notes Conflict of Laws Notes

Choice Of Law (Contract) Notes

Updated Choice Of Law (Contract) Notes

Conflict of Laws Notes

Conflict of Laws

Approximately 333 pages

Conflict of Laws notes fully updated for recent exams in the UK. These notes cover all the major conflicts of laws cases and so are perfect for anyone doing a law degree in the UK or, given the international nature of this subject, these notes also make a great supplement for those studying law abroad.

These notes were formed directly from a reading of the cases and main texts and are vigorous, concise and very well written. Everything is conveniently split up by topic as you can see by the l...

The following is a more accessible plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Conflict of Laws Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:


  1. Rome I Regulation

  • all contracts entered into from 17th December 2009

  1. Rome Convention

  • all contracts entered into after 1st April 1991

  • implemented in UK by Contracts (Applicable Law) Act 1990

  • Giuliano-Lagarde Report 1980 on the Rome Convention aids with interpretation.

Rome I Regulation

Article 1(1): applies to contractual obligations in civil and commercial matters

Article 2: law specified by Regulation applies whether or not it is the law of a Member State

indeed Regulation applies even if both parties to contract are from non-Member States

“Contractual obligations”: not defined in Regulation.

Giuliano-Lagarde Report 1980: autonomous approach must be taken

e.g. gifts and promises to give are involve contractual obligations

Articles 1(2) + 1(3): Regulation DOES NOT apply to:

  1. revenues, customs or administrative matters

  2. arbitration agreements or jurisdiction agreements

  • thus law applying to agreement to arbitrate is matter for common law

  • jurisdiction agreements are almost always governed by law governing underlying contract


    Regulation Article 3:

    Choice must be made:

  1. Expressly

  2. Or clearly demonstrated by terms of contract or the circumstances of the case

    Convention Article 3

    Choice must be made:

  1. Expressly

  2. Or demonstrated with reasonable certainty by terms of contract or circumstances of case

    Contrast: “clearly demonstrated” vs. “reasonable certainty”

    Express Choice of Law

    E.g. ‘this contract shall be governed by English law’

  1. Incorporation:

  1. Choice may be made via reference to one of parties’ general terms and conditions

    but only provided there is consensus that contract is concluded on those contractual terms

    Iran Continental Shelf Oil Company [2002]

  2. Choice of law clause is not incorporated if one party deletes it before signing the contract and other party signs without noticing

    Samcrete Egypt Engineers and Contractors [2001]

  1. Express choice by reference to an external factor

    e.g. governing law of ‘country by which ship is flagged’

    where it is obvious both parties assume this will lead to a particular choice of law, court will uphold it

    even if due to unforeseen events, the external factor has led to a different choice of law

    Companie Tunisienne de Navigation [1971]

    1. Implied Choice Clearly Demonstrated

G-L Report 1980

Implied choice is not imputed

it must be a real choice of law, but simply not stated in the contract

Report gives 4 examples of where ‘reasonable certainty’ test (Convention) is satisfied:

  1. standard form contracts

  2. jurisdiction and arbitration clauses

  3. courses of dealing

  4. reference to a particular country’s statutes

    by analogy these would also satisfy the ‘clearly demonstrated’ test.

  1. Standard Form Contracts

    If contract is in a standard form known to be governed by particular system of law, is assumed that parties intended contract to be governed by that law.

    E.g. use of phrases which only make sense in context of English insurance law indicates that contract intended to be governed by English law.

    Grad Marine Energy [2010]

    Form of slip used related to London insurance market.

  2. Jurisdiction and Arbitration Clauses

    RIR Recital (12): if there is jurisdiction clause in favour of State A, is a factor to be taken into account when determining whether contract is governed by law of State A.

    Is likely to be very influential factor.

    Convention approach stated to be almost identical to common law in this respect

    Egon Oldendorff v Liberia Corp [1996]

    Compagnie Tunisienne de Navigation [1971]

    GL Report: nevertheless this inference always subject to other terms of contract and circumstances of case

    thus possible for forum of governing law to be different from forum chosen to hear disputes

    i.e. choice of jurisdiction is not a choice of law.

    Compagnie Tunisienne de Navigation [1971]

    Inference will be stronger where:

  1. England is chosen as neutral forum

    compared to where one of parties is English

  2. the more issues under contract that are put to arbitration

  1. Course of Dealing

    GL Report 1980: two scenarios in which course of dealing might be relevant:

  1. Previous course of dealing under contracts containing express choice of law clauses

  • where there is no evidence of deliberate change of policy, governing law will that used previously

  • e.g. Marubeni Hong Kong [2002]

  1. Express choice of law clause in related contract between the same parties

  1. Other Factors not Considered in GL Report

    At common law, relevant factors have included:

  1. if contract is valid under one choice of law but invalid under rival choice

    may be implied choice of law under which contract is valid

    however this implication is not conclusive

    Islamic Arab Ins Co [1987]

  2. currency/place of payment

    implied choice may be that of country whose currency is used or in which payment takes place

    Islamic Arab Ins Co [1987]

  • These 2 probably not sufficient to show implied choice under Art 3 by themselves. More likely that they reinforce another relevant factor.

Restrictions on Parties’ Choices

  1. Non-National Systems

    Parties cannot validly choose a non-national system of law as governing law

    e.g. Jewish/Sharia law

    Halpern v Halpern [2008]

    Regulation Recital (13): however parties can validly incorporate specific provisions of a non-municipal law into their contract

    Halpern v Halpern [2008]

  2. Variation of Choice

    Article 3(2): parties can change their choice of governing law at any time during existence of contract.

  3. Floating Choice of Law Clauses

    ‘Floating choice’: i.e. where choice of law is determined by some event occurring after the conclusion of contract.

    Fentiman: suggests that article 3(2) allows for floating choice of law clauses.

    at common law, floating choice of law clauses were:

    not allowed where choice depends on unilateral choice of one party

    e.g. where there are two potential seats of arbitration from which D can choose, and applicable law depends which one he chooses

    Star Shipping [1993]


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