Choice of Laws

The doctrine by which a court or other tribunal determines which country’s or jurisdiction’s laws will apply to a particular case or claim.

In any legal dispute that crosses political borders, whether domestic or international, there is a question of which laws will apply to the dispute. Such cross-border disputes are increasingly common in the Internet era. For instance, if an Internet user in Italy accesses a server in Sweden, and downloads a copy of a song by a U.S. recording artist, what laws should apply? Where should the trial be held?

A court hearing a suit like this will review the facts and decide what location makes the most sense for the trial, and will also decide which jurisdiction’s laws should apply. It is possible, when writing a contract, to specify what laws will govern in the event of a dispute. Occassionally, the laws of more than one country or jurisdiction might apply to different issues or claims in the same litigation.

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