Friday, January 06, 2006


I am always fascinated by the subject of Conflicts of Laws. It’s the foreign element that spices up any legal problems. As we all know, a Conflict of Laws case is any case which involves facts occurring in more than one state or nation, so that in deciding the case, it is necessary to make a choice between the laws of different states or countries.

And as if things are not spicy enough (pardon the word), there is the problem of the “renvoi”. “Renvoi” is a french word which means “refer back” or “return”. The problem on “renvoi” arises when there is doubt as to whether the reference by the lex fori to the foreign law involves reference to the internal law of the foreign law or a reference to the entirety of the foreign law, including its conflicts rules.

An example of a “renvoi” problem was the case of Christenses vs Garcia (7 SCRA 95) where a California citizen who resided in our country for 50 years dies here. The SC was faced with a problem of whether to apply a California law which provides that the law of the domicile of its deceased citizen should apply or our civil code which provides that the national law of the deceased should be applied in succession cases. In this particular case, the SC applied the Philippine law.


“Double Renvoi” , on the other hand occurs when the local court, in adopting the foreign court theory, discovers that the foreign court accepts the “renvoi”. But since the foreign law remits the case to Philippine law, being the law of the deceased’s domicile, the foreign court may discover that Philippine law does not accept the remission as it applies the national law of the deceased, so the foreign court, sitting as Philippine court, would still apply its own internal law. This is then what our court will apply.



Renvoi – rule in some jurisdiction that in a suit by a nonresident upon a cause arising locally, his capacity to sue will be determined by looking to the law of his domicile rather than to the local law. (Barron’s) (Therefore only two laws are involved).

Transmission – the process of applying the law of a foreign state thru the law of a second foreign state. (Therefore, it involves three laws.)

Question of the Day

In the absence of definitive laws on the matter, how should the “renvoi” problem in the Philippines be resolved?

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