Legal Blog

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tort and Curacao private international law

The legal effects doctrine: an exception to the lex loci delicti rule

Under Curaçao rules of private international law, a claim arising from an unlawful act is governed, in the absence of a choice of jurisdiction by the parties, by the law of the country were the unlawful act was committed (lex loci delicti). However, this rule may possibly not apply if the tortfeasor and the injured party are both residing in a country other than that where the unlawful act was committed and if the legal effects occur entirely in the other country. This is the so-called legal effects doctrine. In such  cases the question of whether the act committed was unlawful, but also other elements such as the causal link between the act and the injury, (extent of the) damages, circle of liability etc. may possibly also be governed by the legal effects doctrine.

This is evidenced by judgments of the Supreme Court, e.g. Supreme Court dd November 19, 1993 (COVA case). In its decision the Supreme Court confirmed that the principal rule on conflicts in the field of international torts is that the applicable law is the law of the place where the wrongful act took place, the lex loci delicti. The place of the wrongful act may, however, be fortuitous or unascertainable. As a result, according to the Supreme Court, exceptions to the lex loci delicti rule such as the legal effects doctrine may, perhaps apply.

However, the Supreme Court also held that this exception should only be applied restrictively. The Supreme Court held that an exception to the lex loci delicti rule may only be made if all legal consequences of the wrongful act fall within the legal sphere of a country other than where the act took place. Furthermore, it held that this is only the case when both parties, the tortfeasor and the injured party, are domiciled in that country. It should also be noted, that the legal effects doctrine does not preclude account being taken of so-called mandatory or priority rules such as traffic and safety rules existing at the place of the unlawful act, or of other comparable rules intended to protect persons or things (i.e. property).

Finally, depending on the pertinent facts and circumstances of a particular case, other exceptions to the lex loci delicti may possibly be permitted. For instance, if the unlawful act is closely connected with another legal relationship, e.g. a contract, between the tortfeasor and the injured party, then it may possibly be argued that the law applying to that other legal relationship must also govern the obligation arising from the unlawful act.

Filed under: Commercial by Karel Frielink.



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