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INTERNATIONAL LAW (PRIVATE)

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INTERNATIONAL LAW (PRIVATE). There is in every territory the law of the land, or territorial law, by which the courts decide all cases that include no circumstances connected with any foreign territory. Often, however, such a circumstance suggests the question whether justice does not require that the law of some other territory shall be applied. Thus the Gretna Green marriages, by which English minors escaped the necessity of banns or the consent of parents or guardians, suggested the question, which was answered in the affirmative, whether even in England their validity ought not to be tried by the law of Scotland, where they were celebrated. Often, again, the question is suggested whether justice does not require that the courts of law should allow some effect to foreign legal proceedings, such as a judgment obtained or litigation pending abroad. Such questions as these are answered by private international law, which, since both laws and legal proceedings are emanations of public authority, may be defined as the department of legal science which is concerned with the effect to be given in the courts of law of any territory to the public authority of another territory. The extradition of criminals is also an effect given to foreign public authority, but rather by the government which surrenders the criminal (see EXTRADITION) than by the courts of law, whose only function is to check the surrender so far as the domestic legislation allows them to do so. If private international law were defined as the effect to be given by any mode in one territory to the public authority of another, extradition would be included in it, as is often done; but since the principles governing extradition have little to do with those applicable to the other cases, it seems best to treat it as a separate department of law, as is generally done in England.

Comity of Nations.-In the 17th century the Dutch jurists Paul and John Voet and Huber brought forward a view which has since been largely adopted in England and the United States, namely, that the effect given by courts of law to foreign public authority is only due to the comity of nations, but for which every possible question before them would have to be decided by the law of the land. Comity, in that phrase, may only be intended to express the truth that foreign public authority has no inherent effect, without denying that the effect which domestic public authority allows to it is dictated by justice. But the limitations implied in the popular meaning of comity have sometimes been made the ground for deciding questions of private international law in the manner supposed to be most for the interest of litigants belonging to the territory; the phrase is consequently re probated by most European continental Writers, and had better be dropped. The justice on which private international law is founded acknowledges no intefest but the general one of intercourse between persons sharing a common civilization in different countries. This interest, as manifesting itself in the domain of law, it seeks to satisfy, and it is therefore a true legal justice, rightly classed under law, droit, recht, diritto, derecho and other corresponding terms. Of the two words which, together with law, make up the title of our subject, private is justified by the fact that its application is between litigants in courts of law, andnot between governments except so far as they may be such litigants. International (although inter territorial would be better) is justified by the