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2015 PRE-WEEK NOTES IN CONFLICT OF LAWS

PROF. ROLANDO B. FALLER

1. The propriety of dismissing a case based on the principle of forum non


conveniens requires a factual determination; hence, it is more properly
considered as a matter of defense. While it is within the discretion of the trial
court to abstain from assuming jurisdiction on this ground, it should do so only
after vital facts are established, to determine whether special circumstances
require the court's desistance. ||| (Raytheon International, Inc. v. Rouzie, Jr.,
G.R. No. 162894, [February 26, 2008]

2. For a copy of a foreign public document to be admissible, the following


requisites are mandatory: (1) It must be attested by the officer having legal
custody of the records or by his deputy; and (2) It must be accompanied by a
certificate by a secretary of the embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice
consular or consular agent or foreign service officer, and with the seal of his
office. The latter requirement is not a mere technicality but is intended to justify
the giving of full faith and credit to the genuineness of a document in a foreign
country.

With respect to proof of written laws, parol proof is objectionable, for the
written law itself is the best evidence. According to the weight of authority, when
a foreign statute is involved, the best evidence rule requires that it be proved by a
duly authenticated copy of the statute. (Wildvalley Shipping Co., Ltd. v. Court
of Appeals, G.R. No. 119602, [October 6, 2000

3. Analytically, jurisdiction and choice of law are two distinct concepts.


Jurisdiction considers whether it is fair to cause a defendant to travel to this state;
choice of law asks the further question whether the application of a substantive
law which will determine the merits of the case is fair to both parties. The power
to exercise jurisdiction does not automatically give a state constitutional authority
to apply forum law. While jurisdiction and the choice of the lex fori will often
coincide, the "minimum contacts" for one do not always provide the necessary
"significant contacts" for the other. The question of whether the law of a state can
be applied to a transaction is different from the question of whether the courts of
that state have jurisdiction to enter a judgment. (Hasegawa v. Kitamura, G.R.
No. 149177, [November 23, 2007]

4. A Filipina stewardess, who was terminated by a foreign airline company,


filed an action with a Philippine court for damages based on Articles 19 and 21 of
the Civil Code for tortious acts committed in Saudi Arabia. The defendant filed a
motion to dismiss. It maintains that stewardess’ claim for alleged abuse of rights
occurred in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It alleges that the existence of a foreign
element qualifies the instant case for the application of the law of the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia, by virtue of the lex loci delicti commissi rule. Does the Philippine
have jurisdiction over the case?

Answer: Yes. The Philippines is the situs of the tort complained of and the place
"having the most interest in the problem", we find, by way of recapitulation, that
the Philippine law on tort liability should have paramount application to and
control in the resolution of the legal issues arising out of this case. Further, we
hold that the respondent Regional Trial Court has jurisdiction over the parties and
the subject matter of the complaint; the appropriate venue is in Quezon City,
which could properly apply Philippine law. Moreover, we find untenable
petitioner's insistence that "[s]ince private respondent instituted this suit, she has
the burden of pleading and proving the applicable Saudi law on the matter." As
aptly said by private respondent, she has "no obligation to plead and prove the
law of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since her cause of action is based on Articles
19 and 21" of the Civil Code of the Philippines. In her Amended Complaint and
subsequent pleadings, she never alleged that Saudi Law should govern this
case. And as correctly held by the respondent appellate court, "considering that
it was the petitioner who was invoking the applicability of the law of Saudi Arabia,
then the burden was on it [petitioner] to plead and to establish what the law of
Saudi Arabia is"||| (Saudi Arabian Airlines v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
122191, [October 8, 1998], 358 PHIL 105-129)

5. Distinction between recognition of foreign judgment and enforcement of


foreign judgment

Recognition of foreign judgments Enforcement of foreign judgments


Allows said foreign judgment to be Exists when a plaintiff wants the
presented as a defense to a local courts to positively carry out and make
litigation. effective in the Philippines a foreign
judgment.
Involves merely the sense of justice Virtually implies a direct act of
sovereignty
Does not require either action or a Necessitates a separate action or
special proceeding proceeding brought precisely to make
the foreign judgment effective
May exist without enforcement Necessarily carries with its recognition

6. Effects of foreign judgment

a. In case of judgment against a specific thing, the judgment is conclusive


upon the title to the thing.
b. In case of a judgment against a person, the judgment is presumptive
evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest
by a subsequent title; but the judgment may be repelled by evidence of a
want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud or clear
mistake of law or fact.

7. Characterization is the process by which a court at the beginning of the


choice-of-law process assigns a disputed question to an area in substantive law,
such as torts, contracts, family law or property. There are 2 types of
characterization:

a. subject-matter characterization – which calls for classification by a


court of a factual situation into a legal category.

b. substance-procedure characterization – which directs the court to


the extent it will apply foreign law. If the issue is substantive, the court may apply
foreign law but if it is procedural, it is supposed to follow the law of the forum.

8. If the issue is substantive, the court may apply foreign law or forum law. If
issue is procedural, court will apply forum law. Reason: so as not to unduly
burden or complicate the task of the court with the study of uncommon
peculiarities and refinements of another legal system.

9. General rules on domicile

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i. No person shall be without a domicile.
ii. A person cannot have two simultaneous domiciles since the very
purpose for identifying one’s domicile is to establish a connection
between the person and the definite legal system.

10. Renvoi is a procedure whereby an jural mater presented is referred by the


conflict of laws rules of the forum to a foreign state, the conflict of laws rule of
which, in turn, refers the matter to the law of the forum or a third state. When
reference is made back to the law of the forum, there is a “remission” while
reference to a third state is called “transmission”.

11. Kilberg doctrine - it is a rule to the effect that the forum is not bound by
the law of the place of injury or death as to the limitation on damages for wrongful
act because such rule is procedural and hence the law of the forum governs this
issue.

12. Most significant relationship theory or center of gravity doctrine -


choice of law problems are resolved by the application of the law of the
jurisdiction which has the most significant relationship to or contact with event
and parties to litigation and the issue therein.

13. Long arm statutes - statutes allowing the courts to exercise jurisdiction
when there are minimum contacts between the non-resident and defendant and
the forum

14. Borrowing statute – laws of the state or jurisdiction used by another state
in deciding conflicts question involved in the choice of law.

15. Determination of nationality

a. Each State has the prerogative and authority to determine by its


own municipal law who are its citizens or nationals.

b. The Hague Convention on Conflict of National Law states:

i. It is for each State to determine who are its nationals. The law
shall be recognized by other States insofar as it is consistent
with international convention, customs, and principles of law
generally recognized with regard to nationality.
ii. Any question as to whether a person possesses the nationality
of a particular State shall be determined in accordance with the
law of that State.