Result-Selectivism in Private International Law

46 Willamette Law Review 1 (2009)

30 Pages Posted: 20 May 2008 Last revised: 13 Jan 2018

See all articles by Symeon Symeonides

Symeon Symeonides

Willamette University - College of Law


One of the basic dilemmas of conflicts law, or private international law (PIL), is whether, in choosing the law applicable to cases involving conflicts of laws, one should aim for: (1) the law of the proper state without concern for the "justness" of the particular result ("conflict justice"); or (2) for the same quality of substantive results as in non-conflicts cases ("material justice").

For centuries, the "conflicts justice" view has been dominant in all countries. The "material justice" view has had some recent following in the United States, but in the rest of the world it has had only marginal influence. In recent years, however, this view has gained significant ground, even in codified PIL systems. Without endorsing this view, this essay examines several recent PIL codifications and identifies a surprisingly high number of result-selective rules, namely choice-of-law rules that are specifically designed to accomplish a particular substantive result.

The fact that these rules are far more numerous now than in the past suggests that the above dilemma is no longer an all-or-nothing proposition. Material-justice considerations are gaining increasing acceptance as one of the factors that should guide the pursuit of conflicts justice. The difficult question is not whether but rather when these considerations should receive preference in uncodified systems in which the choice of law is made by judges rather than legislators.

Keywords: Conflict of laws, choice-of-law, private international law, codification, material justice, conflicts justice, result selectivism, substantivism, conflictualism

JEL Classification: K1, K10, K12, K13, K33, K40

Suggested Citation

Symeonides, Symeon, Result-Selectivism in Private International Law. 46 Willamette Law Review 1 (2009), 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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