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The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05.
conflict of laws
that part of the law in each state, country, or other jurisdiction that determines whether, in dealing with a particular legal situation, its law or the law of some other jurisdiction will be applied. An alternative term, widely used in Europe, is private international law. An example of a situation that might involve the different laws of two places is that of a contract signed in one state and mailed to another. Complications may arise if one of the states provides that a contract so delivered is effective once mailed, while the other state provides that it is not effective until received. The conflict of laws rules that a court applies in these disputed situations are commonly designed to decide the case by the law of the territory having the closest connection with the transaction. An often expressed ideal is that of making the decision the same regardless of where the case is decided.