Centre for Private International Law

Centre for Private International Law


Private International Law

Private International Law (sometimes also called ‘International Private Law’ or ‘Conflict of Laws’) provides the methods with which lawyers can anticipate, tackle and solve many of the issues that arise if and when foreign private laws interact with the laws of the forum, in matters of civil law, commercial law or family law. The legal discipline addresses questions concerning which courts may exercise jurisdiction, which laws apply to a case, and whether judgments of the courts of one state can be recognised elsewhere.

This may sound abstract but it could hardly be less so.  Private international law issues arise in each of the following scenarios, for example: a) drafting a contract which has a foreign aspect; b) advising a client who has not been paid for the goods he supplied and who now wishes to sue the foreign buyer; c) advising a client who having married abroad now wishes for a UK divorce; d) advising a client who has recently moved to the UK wishes to receive maintenance from her former spouse who has remained abroad. Lawyers are frequently confronted with private law issues that increasingly have a foreign element that therefore brings issues of private international law into consideration.

If private international law is understood, the way to reduce the uncertainties is also understood; it follows that in a world of unprecedented globalisation, Private International Law is a vital aspect of legal practice and education. 

Centre for Private International Law

Founded on long-standing tradition of excellence in teaching and researching private international law, the Centre for Private International Law of the University of Aberdeen’s Law School was established in 2012. It seeks to promote the development of private international law, and to provide platforms for the discussion of current issues in the subject. The Centre advances this mission through high quality research and publications, teaching across all levels of instruction, and through a busy calendar of events.

The Centre prides itself on a well-established level of involvement in private international law reform. Its past and present members have helped to shape several international legislative initiatives, as well as judicial innovations across the range of EU private international law competence.

The Centre has grown from a long and distinguished tradition of private international law scholarship at the Law School, first established by Professor AE (Sandy) Anton FBA FRSE in the 1950s and later fostered by him over the late 1970s and 80s. Today, the Centre is a research-intensive grouping of private international law specialists drawn from a range of international jurisdictions. Our work contributes to the development of the traditional core of private international law, to the attempts to Europeanise or Globalise aspects of the subject and also to specific contemporary challenges ranging from international surrogacy arrangements to the potential for blockchain technology to contribute to the context of cross-border dispute resolution.

The Centre has an extensive network of Associate Members, and welcomes visiting scholars to exchange ideas on research and teaching and extend further opportunities for collaboration. The Centre also invites guest speakers, whether prominent practitioners or academics, to its events and also to the Law School seminar series

Objectives of the Centre

  1. To advance the study of private international law through top quality research and publication
  2. To carry out major research projects in the field of private international law, building on the Centre’s tradition of excellence in private international law reform
  3. To provide a platform for discussion of current issues in private international law through conferences, workshops and research seminars
  4. To provide high quality teaching in the field of private international law at all levels.