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Torts and Choice of Law: Searching for Principles

Keith N. Hylton

Boston University - School of Law

October 31, 2006

Boston Univ. School of Law Working Paper No. 06-41

If a tortious act (e.g., negligently firing a rifle) occurs in state X and the harm (e.g., killing a bystander) occurs in state Y, which state's law should apply? This is a simple example of the "choice of law" problem in torts. The problem arises between states or provinces with different laws within one nation and between different nations. In this comment, prepared for the 2006 American Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting, I examine this problem largely in terms of incentive effects, and briefly consider how the analysis could be incorporated into the standard introductory course on tort law. I conclude that a zone of foreseeable impact rule provides the best underlying principle in conflict of law situations. This rule supports the traditional legal approach (lex loci) to conflicts of laws and helps to explain modern approaches as well.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 11

Keywords: tort, choice of law, zone of foreseeable impact, conflict of law, law of forum, law of injury site, law of decision site, balancing tests

JEL Classification: K13

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Date posted: November 1, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Hylton, Keith N., Torts and Choice of Law: Searching for Principles (October 31, 2006). Boston Univ. School of Law Working Paper No. 06-41. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=941671 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.941671

Contact Information

Keith N. Hylton (Contact Author)
Boston University - School of Law ( email )
765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-353-8959 (Phone)
617-353-3077 (Fax)
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