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What is Private International Law?

Private international law is a body of rules used to resolve legal disputes between private individuals who cross international boundaries.  Where a dispute is between two parties in different countries with different legal systems, private international law helps a court determine which country's substantive law will be used to decide the matter.  Although it is called 'international law' it is in fact a body of domestic law, and each country has its own set of private international law.  It is distinguished from public international law, which is the law which governs relations between States (nations).

Although private international law is a domestic body of law, a lot of work has been done by various international bodies to try to harmonise private international law around the world.  This harmonisation effort is designed to minimise the impact of international legal disputes and in so doing to promote international trade and commerce.

Related Subject Guide: International Law... Public International Law

Books on private international law