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Conflict of laws LA3014

Conflict of laws is offered as an optional module to students studying on the Standard Entry and Graduate Entry LLB courses.

It is also offered as an Individual Module. Credits from an Individual Module will not count towards the requirements of the LLB.

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.

Existing case law has been developed in recent years with the statutory implementation of International Conventions and Law Commission reports – but there are questions as yet unsettled, which increases the importance of academic writing and also gives students the chance to present their own solutions.

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.

Learning outcomes

If you complete the course successfully, you should be able to:

  • Set out the conditions under which a court is competent to hear an action (the question of jurisdiction)
  • Determine by what law the rights of the parties are to be ascertained (the question of choice of law)
  • Specify the circumstances in which the foreign judgment can be recognised and enforced by action in England (the question of recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments)
  • 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.


3hr 15 mins unseen examination

Essential reading

The essential reading for this course is the subject guide and reading pack provided. The extracts are from:

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