Conflict of Laws

Sara Riboldi is one of very few Canadian lawyers who specialize in jurisdiction issues

Conflict of Laws

Conflict of laws is a branch of International law that can impact directly individuals or corporations in the private sector and therefore is often referred to as “international private law.” This is a different legal sector from international public law, which generally creates obligations for states or other governmental organizations further to the signature and ratification of a treaty or convention.

With increased global mobility and trade, situations that trigger the application of conflict of laws principles have become common. The law of domicile, the law of the country that regulates the marriage or the divorce of parties with different nationalities, the law of >rei sitae and the law of the contract are all legal terminologies typical of a conflict of law situation. Often it is clear and unequivocal to determine which law regulates a legal matter, but there are times when a foreign element enters the picture (the place where the contract is signed, different domicile or nationalities of parties, location of assets in different countries) and an issue of jurisdiction or applicable law is raised. The decision on the law applicable to a situation is critical for the determination of the parties’ rights and obligations. For example, in determining whether you have an entitlement or a claim to an estate in a different country, it is important to determine which law is applicable to the situation: the foreign law or the domestic? When you apply the foreign law, do you apply the foreign law conflict of laws rules or the substantial law of the country? To determine which law is applicable to the marriage of parties with different nationalities or who moved their domicile from one country to another, it can be important to determine their respective obligations and property rights in case the marriage breaks down. Whether a matter shall be brought before an Ontario court or an Italian court can have a significant impact on the outcome of a decision or on the recognition and enforcement of the decision in the other jurisdiction.

We can help you to navigate through different legal systems to find the answers to questions such as the ones described above. We have been practicing in this area for a long time in both jurisdictions and we have developed a knowledge with both the code or convention based approach of continental Europe and the common law approach of most Canadian jurisdictions for conflict of laws matters.