Law, College of


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Bradford in University of Pittsburgh Law Review 52 (1990-1991). Copyright 1991, University of Pittsburgh. Used by permission.


Choice-of-law issues have always been among the most difficult legal issues. Legal questions that are difficult when only one state is involved become herculean when a choice must be made from among the different laws of several jurisdictions. The difficulty of conflicts law is increased by the theoretical quarrels among courts and scholars. Scholars and judges are unable to agree on an underlying theory of choice of law, much less the result in particular cases. A number of different approaches compete for attention, producing an eclectic body of case law.

Originally, "vested rights" territorialism dominated choice of law. Courts applied the law of the state where the cause of action or legal right vested or accrued. However, this approach, best represented by the Restatement of Conflict of Laws, often produced dissatisfying results. The result was often ambiguous in tough cases; courts frequently disagreed about where particular rights vested. Conscious or unconscious manipulation was possible. Further, many of the territorial rules in the First Restatement had no particular anchor in policy.

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