Torts in English and American Conflict of Laws: The Role of the Forum

”Private international law owes its existence to the fact that there are in the world a number of separate territorial systems of law that differ greatly from each other in the rules by which they regulate the various legal relations arising in daily life.” Where the systems are those of member states of a federal union, there should be less difference in their laws than where they are those of sovereign nations divided by strong cultural, social and political barriers. Interstate conflicts and international conflicts are likely to give rise to somewhat different considerations and rules, and it is surely significant that the relevant branch of law is generally known in the United States as the conflict of laws and in England more usually as private international law. It is, therefore, worth summarizing at the outset the different function which the conflict of laws or private international law performs in the two countries, since this may help to explain why, in the area of torts specifically, their rules appear to be so different. Whether the difference in effect is as great as the difference in appearance would lead one to believe is, however, somewhat questionable.