Duquesne Law Review


Almost since its first introduction to American jurisprudence, renvoi has been looked upon as a dirty word by most courts in this country. in most circumstances. There are probably several reasons for this disdain. First, it is a foreign word, and if there is one thing a judge, confronted with a delicate choice of law problem involving the potential application of the law of another jurisdiction, can do without, it's a foreign word. But that problem is fairly easy to resolve. Simply take away its italicization, and renvoi becomes just another word absorbed into the language. A second reason for renvoi's general rejection is a little more difficult to overcome. One suspects that some judges may not be entirely. clear about how renvoi functions. Pejorative characterizations like "international lawn tennis" or "circulus inextrabilis," and misleading phrases like "a double renvoi" or "a renvoi and a half," encountered in law school or in independent reading may have persuaded some judges that renvoi results only in an accretion of cases unresolved because of an endless failure to reach a body of dispositive law, or in an arbitrarily determined number of feckless trips from indicative law to indicative law as a condition precedent to the application of some dispositive law. It's almost astounding that the majority opinion in the Haumschild case, a landmark decision in the utilization of an interest oriented approach to the resolution of a choice of law problem, states and accepts this view of renvoi:

The reason why the authorities on conflict of laws almost universally reject the renvoi doctrine (permitting a court. of the forum. state to apply the conflict of laws principle of a foreign state) is that it is likely to result in the court pursuing a course equivalent to a never ending circle.

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