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Conflict of laws

Module information>

Academic Direction
Laws Consortium
Modes of Study

Also known as private international law, this is the body of rules applied by the English courts to cases with a foreign element, dealing with core issues of jurisdiction, substantive decision-making and recognition of the laws of other jurisdictions.

Topics covered

  • The nature of private international law.
  • Fundamental conceptions. classification. Renvoi. Public policy. Evasion of the law. The incidental question. Time factor.
  • Connecting factors, in particular domicile and habitual residence. Comparison with nationality.
  • The rules relating to the jurisdiction of English courts in cases involving a foreign element. Staying foreign actions: the forum non conveniens doctrine.
  • The principles of English private international law relating to the following matters.
    Persons: Status and capacity. Corporations.
    The family: Validity and effects of marriage. Divorce. Nullity of marriage. Maintenance obligations. Legitimacy. Contracts: Form. Interpretation. Illegality. Discharge. Torts. Property: Movables and immovable. Transfer of tangible and intangible property. Intestacy. Wills. Administration of estates. Trusts. Procedure and evidence: Proof of foreign law. Recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and decrees.

Note: The syllabus does not include bankruptcy, negotiable instruments, the equitable doctrines of election, satisfaction and performance.

Learning outcomes

If you complete the module successfully you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a fundamental knowledge and understanding of the purpose and sources and the main elements of conflict of laws
  • Demonstrate knowledge of a substantial range of major concepts, values, principles and rules of conflict of laws and explain the relationship between them in a number of areas
  • Demonstrate study in depth and in context of a number of substantive areas of conflict of laws
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the social, economic, moral and ethical context of conflict of laws
  • Demonstrate an understanding of solutions to legal challenges arising from conflict of laws
  • Apply legal principles to a range of specific conflict of laws-based problems and present reasoned arguments and conclusions
  • Demonstrate effective written communication skills in assessed work using appropriate legal terminology specific to conflict of laws
  • Demonstrate effective reading of legal sources
  • Conduct complex research tasks using hard copy and online resources and analyse and interpret legal questions and problems
  • Critique key arguments in judicial opinions and academic writings.


4hr 15 mins unseen examination

Essential reading


  • Hill, J. and M. Ní Shúilleabháin Clarkson & Hill’s conflict of laws. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016) fifth edition [ISBN 9780198732297].
  • Torremans, P. et al. (eds) CheshireNorth & Fawcett: private international law. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017) 15th edition [ISBN 9780199678990].