An Inquiry Into the Utility of “Domicile” as a Concept in Conflicts Analysis

No attempt is made here to conduct an exhaustive case study of any one particular area in which the concept of “domicile” is used as a tool for analysis in the conflict of laws. A number of thorough and useful studies have been made in narrow areas and are cited at appropriate places in the body of this article. Instead, this article will review the use of “domicile” in analyzing certain typical conflicts problems, particularly its use as the contact or pointing word in choice of law rules concerning the testate and intestate distribution of movables, and, as is newly the fashion, its use when determining the capacity of a wife to sue her husband in tort. “Domicile” as a basis for judicial jurisdiction will also be dealt with briefly. But, except for divorce jurisdiction, jurisdiction to deal with status will be skirted since such problems are enormously complex and require separate treatment. The purpose of this wide-ranging overview is to appraise the utility of the concept of “domicile” as a tool for conflicts analysis. Several well-known cases have been selected for examination. A review of those cases and the analytical problems they present should allow some conclusions to be drawn regarding whether domicile is a useful concept which assists proper analysis or is an albatross around our necks that we would be better to be quit of.