Distinction between Public International Law and Private International Law

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Introduction:

Public International law is defined as body of rules which regulates relations among states. On the other hand, private international law is that branch of international law which decides what law will be applicable in dispute involving citizens of more than one nation and determines the court which will have jurisdiction to decide the issue. It is more popularly termed as “Conflict of Law”.

Distinction between Public International Law and Private International Law:

  1. Public International Law deals primarily with states and to some extent with the individuals; Private International Law deals with the individuals of two states.
  2. The rules of Private International Law are part of the internal law of the State concerned, it is not so in the case of Public International Law.
  3. Public International Law is applied uniformly to all states; Private International Law differs from state to state.
  4. Private International Law determines as to which law will apply in a case having a foreign element. There is no such problem in the field of Public International Law.
  5. Private International Law also determines the court which will have jurisdiction to decide the issue in question. In this respect also it differs from Public International Law.
  6. Private International Law is enacted mainly through legislation enacted by the legislatures of different states; Public International Law evolves largely through the consent of the states by means of custom and convention.
  7. According to Robert Phillimore, rights arising out of Public International Law are absolute and their reach constitutes a cause belli i.e., whatever involves or justifies war. However Private International Law does not at all confer absolute rights.

Conclusion:

The distinction between Public International Law and Private International Law has reduced because certain rules of Private International Law have become the rules of Public International Law as well. What is now termed as Private International Law may also have the character of Public International Law. It is done mainly by the conclusion of treaties. As long as they are not postulated by the rules of customary law, treaties on general principles of law recognised by civilised nations, they remain the rules of municipal law.

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