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Private international law and the Internet (3rd ed.)
Svantesson D., Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2016. 728 pp. Type: Book (978-9-041159-56-4)
Date Reviewed: May 8 2017

Private international law is sometimes called “conflict of laws,” meaning what law controls when there is a multinational aspect in a situation. The focus of this detailed, nearly 700-page work is the Internet, which, of course, freely crosses national boundaries and has introduced a new world of legal concerns.

Svantesson’s online biography indicates that he is a codirector of the Centre for Commercial Law at the Faculty of Law (Bond University) and a Researcher at the Swedish Law & Informatics Research Institute, Stockholm University.

Fundamentally, what is addressed is when a court will hear or decline to hear a lawsuit, what national law will be applied in litigation, and whether or not a nation will recognize and enforce a judgment rendered elsewhere.

A significant amount of legal information that would require considerable time and research to assemble has been conveniently placed in one book. Fundamental issues addressed include jurisdiction and a general overview of international law rules. Legal approaches taken by a variety of nations are addressed in separate chapters. The traditional common law approach of Australia, England, and Hong Kong is in one chapter. Another chapter is devoted to the United States. A chapter addresses the European civil law of Germany and Sweden. The People’s Republic of China has its own chapter.

Another chapter addresses the fundamental international conventions. The European and Hague Conventions, as well as an assortment of United Nations and miscellaneous conventions such as Paris and Berne, are reviewed.

Following this, the author discusses the issue of jurisdiction in a variety of situations including contracts and wrongful acts. The rules typically applied in declining jurisdiction as well as what law to apply (choice of law) are reviewed.

A chapter is devoted to geo-identification. This chapter begins by observing that the concept of borderless and independent cyberspace has passed with the advent of location-based services. A host of legal questions surround this movement. However, courts have been slow to recognize this.

In the first chapter, the author identifies the themes and substantive focus of the current paradigm of private international law. As the book ends, directions and trends are again discussed. These include proposed conventions addressing both defamation and contracts.

Three appendices of practical checklists are included. Of special interest is one addressing private international law issues for drafters of online agreements. The other two relate to litigation concerns. Helpfully, there is also a selected bibliography, indexed table of legal authority, and a very good general index.

Both legal researchers and legal practitioners concerned with the ever-changing intersection of international law and Internet technology will want this reference. This is not light reading, but law never is.

Reviewer:  Brad Reid Review #: CR145250 (1707-0440)
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