Copyright (c) 2003 Yeshiva University
Cardozo Journal of International and Comparative Law
NOTE: RENVOI IN MULTINATIONAL CASES IN NEW YORK COURTS: DOES ITS PAST PRECLUDE ITS FUTURE?
11 Cardozo J. Int'l & Comp. L. 143
I. Introduction: Understanding Renvoi
It seems unlikely that the Belgian jurist Laurent knew the extent of the debate he was instigating in 1881, when he discovered the theoretical error that supposedly undermined the renvoi doctrine. 1 Before exploring this debate, it is necessary to understand the complicated doctrine of renvoi itself. 2 The doctrine maintains that "when by its rules of the conflict of laws a court must apply the law of some other legal unit, it must apply not only the internal law of that unit, but also its rules of the conflict of laws." 3 In turn, the forum court must apply whatever law the court of the foreign State would apply. This may be the law of the foreign court, the law of the forum, or even the law of a third State.
Consider the following hypothetical illustration: State A's choice of law rule maintains that intestate distribution of property is performed in accordance with the law of the situs of the property. State B's choice of law rule maintains that such disputes are to be resolved pursuant to the law of the domicile (lex domicilii) of the decedent. If a Decedent dies intestate, with his domicile in State A, but owning property in State B, and suit is brought in State A, the court will be faced with a renvoi problem. Accordingly, there are two possible outcomes:
Outcome 1: The State A court applies its own choice of law rule, which tells it to look to ...
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