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The University of Southampton

LAWS3055 Commercial Conflict of Laws and International Litigation

Module Overview

This module considers the conflict of laws issues that may arise in a commercial dispute with an international element: which tribunal or court has jurisdiction to determine the merits of the dispute; which law is applicable to the dispute; how can parallel proceedings in more than one State be prevented so that any court judgment or arbitration award can be recognised and enforced; how can security for the claim be obtained. The European Regulations on jurisdiction and applicable law are studied, and the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the English courts. The rules in the European Regulations on jurisdiction are compared and contrasted with English national law. The shortcomings of both systems, despite recent reform of the European Regulation on jurisdiction, are analysed and proposals for reform considered.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the various techniques for dealing with international commercial problems involving conflict of laws;
  • a comparison of the major Conventions/Regulations and other supranational legislation as well as selected provisions of national laws dealing with commercial conflict of laws;
  • the various techniques for dealing with international civil procedural problems in commercial litigation;
  • questions of private international law regarding insurance, subrogation, assignment and direct action;
  • the impact of EU law on domestic English private international law.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • independently research the harmonisation of private international law in Europe;
  • explain similarities and differences in national approaches, outcomes, policies and underlying philosophies;
  • form your own independent and personal view on the desirability and viability of harmonisation of private international law in Europe affecting businesses;
  • identify the level of convergence currently existing among European private international law systems.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • work effectively with a group to clarify a task and make appropriate use of the capacities of group members;
  • use the full range of learning resources;
  • be reflective on your own and others' functioning in order to improve practice;
  • competently undertake research tasks with minimum guidance;
  • be an independent and self-critical learner, managing your own requirements for continuing professional development;
  • to engage confidently in academic and professional communication with others, reporting on action clearly, autonomously and competently;
  • to deploy legal arguments in writing and/or orally.


The Conflict of Laws, or Private International Law as it is usually called in civil law jurisdictions, deals with the law relating to private law cases containing significant foreign elements. There are three main branches of the subject: first, questions of jurisdiction - the extent to which English and/or other courts will assume jurisdiction over cases containing foreign elements. Secondly, questions of choice of law - what law governs the issues arising in the case – English Law or the law of some other legal system? Thirdly, questions of recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments - in what circumstances will judgments of foreign courts be recognized and enforced in England and under what circumstances will English judgments be enforceable overseas, notably in the EU? The frequency of conflict of laws problems is increasing with the growth of international trade. Moreover, the EU's harmonization of the rules of jurisdiction and choice of law has introduced a new dimension to the subject. The course covers the main private law areas of contract, tort or delict, insurance, property, cross-border insolvency, comparative conflicts in company law, arbitration and a number of issues relating to international civil procedure. Where appropriate, a comparison with the US is made.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

- Non-assessed essay - Class room discussion The module is taught by 20 two hour weekly lectures and ten one hour fortnightly tutorials. Preparation for and participation in lectures and tutorials will develop: - Your knowledge of the substantive principles and rules on commercial conflict of laws - Your ability to manage and access a diverse range of sources of law, notably EU Regulations and the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the English courts. - Your ability critically to evaluate those sources and to participate constructively in oral discussions concerning them - Your ability to assess reform proposals and comment critically on them - Your time management and research skills

Preparation for scheduled sessions200
Wider reading or practice20
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Edited by Paul Torremans, Ugljesa Grusic, Christian Heinze, Louise Merrett, Alex Mills, Carmen Otero García-Castrillon, Zheng Sophia Tang, Katarina Trimmings, and Lara Walker. Cheshire, North & Fawcett: Private International La. 

T. Hartley (2015). International Commercial Litigation. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 60%
Essay  (4000 words) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 40%
Written assessment 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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