Conflict of laws is an institution of international law and intranational (interstate) law that regulates all lawsuits involving a "foreign" law element where different judgments will result depending on which jurisdiction's laws are applied as the lex causae.
The three branches of conflict of laws are
- Jurisdiction – whether the forum court has the power to resolve the dispute at hand
- Choice of law – the law to be applied to resolve the dispute
- Foreign judgments – the willingness of the court to recognize and enforce a judgment from an external forum within the jurisdiction of the adjudicating forum.
Civil law systems
In civil law systems, private international law is a branch of the internal legal system dealing with the determination of which state law is applicable to situations crossing over the borders of one particular state and involving a "foreign element" (élément d'extranéité), (collisions of law, conflict of laws). Lato sensu (at large) it also includes international civil procedure and international commercial arbitration (collisions of jurisdiction, conflict of jurisdictions), as well as citizenship law (which strictly speaking is part of public law).
Common law systems
In common law systems, conflict of laws, firstly, is concerned with determining whether the proposed forum has jurisdiction to adjudicate and is the appropriate venue for dealing with the dispute, and, secondly, with determining which of the competing state's laws are to be applied to resolve the dispute. It also deals with the enforcement of foreign judgments.