Rome II and Tort Conflicts: A Missed Opportunity

46 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2007

See all articles by Symeon Symeonides

Symeon Symeonides

Willamette University - College of Law


This article reviews the European Union's new Regulation on tort conflicts ("Rome II"), which unifies and "federalizes" the member states' laws on this subject. The review accepts the drafters' pragmatic premise that a rule-system built around the lex loci delicti as the basic rule, rather than American-style "approaches," was the only politically viable vehicle for unification. Within this framework, the review examines whether Rome II provides sufficient and flexible enough exceptions as to make the lex loci rule less arbitrary and the whole system more workable.

The author's answer is negative. For example, the common-domicile exception is too broad in some respects and too narrow in other respects. Likewise, the "manifestly closer connection" escape is phrased in exclusively geographical terms unrelated to any overarching principle and is worded in an all-or-nothing way that precludes issue-by-issue deployment and prevents it from being useful in all but the easiest of cases. The review concludes that, although attaining a proper equilibrium between legal certainty and flexibility is always difficult, Rome II errs too much on the side of certainty, which ultimately may prove elusive.

On the whole, Rome II is a missed opportunity to take advantage of the rich codification experience and sophistication of modern European conflicts law. Nevertheless, Rome II represents a major political accomplishment in unifying and equalizing the member states' laws on this difficult subject. If this first step is followed by subsequent improvements, Europe would have achieved in a relatively short time much more than American conflicts law could ever hope for.

Keywords: Rome II, Choice of Law, Conflict of Laws, Private International Law, Tort Conflicts, Torts, Product Liability, Environmental torts

JEL Classification: K13, K19, K20, K30, K32, K3, K40

Suggested Citation

Symeonides, Symeon, Rome II and Tort Conflicts: A Missed Opportunity. American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 56, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Symeon Symeonides (Contact Author)

Willamette University - College of Law ( email )

245 Winter St. SE
Salem, OR 97301
United States

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