Welcome to the Private International Law site, maintained by the Office of the Assistant Legal Adviser for Private International Law (L/PIL) at the U.S. Department of State. L/PIL is responsible for the negotiation and conclusion of international conventions, model laws and rules, legislative guides, and other instruments governing private transactions that cross international borders. For Current Developments, see below.
This website is intended to provide a convenient location to find information regarding private international law in areas such as trade, finance and banking; judicial assistance; arbitration and judgments; matters involving families and children; and wills, trusts and estates.
The database accessible on this page is organized into the following categories:
Arbitration and Judgments
Wills, Trusts and Estates
The categories (other than General Resources) generally contain the following subheadings:
PIL conventions to which the U.S. is a party
PIL conventions for which U.S. ratification/accession is under consideration
Other PIL conventions (illustrative only – not meant to be comprehensive)
Other PIL instruments (e.g., model laws, legislative guides, etc.)
Work in progress
For links to specific conventions or other instruments, please refer to the listings under General Resources for the relevant intergovernmental organizations concerned with the unification and development of private international law: the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL); the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCOPIL); the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT); and the Organization of American States (OAS).
In addition, the “Current Developments” section below, which is updated quarterly, provides information on current negotiations and projects, the U.S. Government position on certain matters, and upcoming events.
Persons or organizations wishing to comment on this website or to otherwise contact L/PIL are invited to do so by email, fax or letter to the following:
Assistant Legal Adviser for Private International Law
Suite 357, South Building
2430 E Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037-2851
Fax: (202) 776-8482
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org attn: Trish Smeltzer
Current Developments (updated 5-1-13)
The Hague Conference on Private International Law held its annual General Affairs and Policy Council April 9-11, 2013. Highlights:
-The Council gave preliminary approval to the Principles on Choice of Law in International Contracts that had been adopted by a Special Commission in November 2012. The experts who developed the Principles will now prepare a detailed commentary to accompany them. The entire package is expected to be considered by the Council in 2014.
-A working group will convene twice in 2013 to develop a guide to good practice on Article 13(b) of the Hague Child Abduction Convention, which provides for non-return of the child when there is a grave risk that return would expose the child to harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.
-The Permanent Bureau will continue its research on the recognition and enforcement of foreign civil protection orders, and may convene an experts’ group for that purpose.
-The Permanent Bureau will continue its study of international surrogacy issues, and will present a report to the Council in 2014.
-An experts’ group will meet later in 2013 to discuss the recognition and enforcement of child dispute agreements, including those reached through mediation.
-The Technical Assistance Working Group, meeting just prior to the Council, reached agreement on criteria for selection of technical assistance projects and their prioritization, and on procedures for reporting to the Council on technical assistance activities.
-The Council took note of the current status of the Judgments Project. Two meetings relating to that project were held in The Hague February 18-23. A working group made preliminary recommendations regarding development of an instrument on the recognition and enforcement of judgments. An experts’ group considered the desirability and feasibility of an instrument addressing direct grounds of jurisdiction, but did not reach a conclusion. Work in both groups was suspended until October pending resolution of differences regarding the sequencing of the projects.
-Two Special Commissions will be held over the next couple of years: In 2014, a Special Commission on the practical operation of the Hague Service, Evidence and Access to Justice Conventions; and in 2015, a Special Commission on the Intercountry Adoption Convention.
-Effective July 1, Christophe Bernasconi will succeed Hans van Loon as Secretary General of the Hague Conference.
-The Working Group on Contract Farming met January 28-31 to continue preparation of a legal guide on contract farming.
-The Working Group for the Preparation of Model Clauses met February 11-12 to develop model clauses relating to the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts.
-A committee of governmental experts met in Rome March 4-8 and completed a draft of Principles on the Operation of Close-out Netting Provisions. The principles will be considered for approval at the UNIDROIT Governing Council in May.
Several working groups of UNCITRAL have met in New York in recent weeks:
-Working Group II – Arbitration and Conciliation: This group completed new transparency rules on treaty-based, investor-State arbitration. The transparency rules will be presented to the full Commission for approval at UNCITRAL’s annual plenary session in July.
-Working Group V – Insolvency: The working group completed work on two projects: revisions to the Guide to Enactment of the Model Law on Cross-border Insolvency relating to the concept of Center of Main Interests (COMI), and revisions to the Legislative Guide on Insolvency Law regarding directors’ obligations in the period approaching insolvency. The Commission will review these instruments in July.
-Working Group VI – Security Interests: This group completed a draft of Technical Legislative Guidance on the Implementation of a Security Rights Registry. This product will also be reviewed at the upcoming Commission meeting.
In addition, UNCITRAL held a colloquium January 16-18 on microfinance and creating an enabling environment for micro and small businesses. The Commission will consider in July whether to give a mandate to a working group to do further work in this area. UNCITRAL also hosted a meeting of experts April 29-30 on commercial fraud.
The UN Center for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) held a Forum April 15-19. Numerous recommendations and proposals were considered at the Forum.
Meetings of the State Department Advisory Committee on Private International Law:
-The Study Group on Online Dispute Resolution will meet on May 8.
-The working group on Article 13(b) of the Child Abduction Convention will hold a first meeting in The Hague June 6-8.
-The experts composing the working group on choice of law in international contracts will convene in The Hague June 24-26 to begin work on developing detailed commentary to accompany the Principles that received preliminary endorsement from the General Affairs and Policy Council.
-The Council of Diplomatic Representatives will meet in The Hague on July 5 to consider the budget for the coming year (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014).
-On May 6-7 in Rome, UNIDROIT will host the first meeting of the preparatory commission to discuss the development of a registry for the space assets protocol to the Cape Town Convention.
-The Governing Council will meet in Rome May 8-10.
-On May 1-2, UNCITRAL will host a colloquium in Vienna on public-private partnerships.
-Working Group IV (Electronic Commerce) will meet in New York May 13-17 to consider an instrument on electronic transferable records.
-Working Group III (Online Dispute Resolution) will meet in New York May 20-24 to continue work on a framework for online dispute resolution for high-volume, low-value cross-border transactions conducted over the Internet.
-The annual plenary session of UNCITRAL will take place in Vienna July 8-26.
- UN/CEFACT will hold its annual plenary in Geneva June 5-7.
Recent ACPIL meetings:
1. Public meeting on the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements
A public meeting of the Study Group on the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements was held, under the auspices of the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Private International Law, on January 4, 2013. The meeting, which was conducted exclusively by teleconference, was chaired by the Legal Adviser.
The public meeting was convened to obtain comments from participants on a new draft of proposed federal implementing legislation for the Convention on Choice of Court Agreements. The new draft is modeled after chapter 2 of the Federal Arbitration Act, which implements the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention). It does not seek to replicate all of the operative provisions of the Convention, but rather adopts a gap-filling approach. Also, it does not contemplate parallel state legislation. It was explained that it was thought appropriate to present a new alternative because the “cooperative federalism” approach, based on more detailed parallel federal and state legislation, has been stalled since certain stakeholders indicated that they could not accept the “White Paper” package of compromises proposed by the State Department in April 2012.
The Legal Adviser clarified that the State Department was not abandoning the cooperative federalism track, but that in the absence of a workable way forward on that approach, the Department is examining other options to try to identify an implementation vehicle that can move.
A representative of the Legal Adviser’s Office introduced the text and explained the differences between the short and long form federal drafts. Various stakeholders expressed views on the relative merits of the new approach, and also provided comments on specific articles.
No matter was resolved. No report was approved.
2. Public meeting on foreign civil protection orders
A public meeting of the Study Group on Family Law was held, under the auspices of the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Private International Law, on January 14, 2013, at the State Department, Office of Private International Law, State Annex 4, South Building, 23rd and D Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C. The meeting was chaired by a representative of the Office of the Assistant Legal Adviser for Private International Law.
The Hague Conference on Private International Law recently circulated a questionnaire to Member States on the recognition and enforcement of foreign civil protection orders. The questionnaire is divided into the following parts; (i) domestic civil protection order regimes and types of orders available; (ii) domestic civil protection order enforcement issues; (iii) current domestic rules regarding recognition and enforcement of foreign civil protection orders and establishment of orders by foreigners; (iv) regional and international instruments; (v) civil protection orders in the context of the Hague Abduction Convention and the Hague Child Protection Convention; and (vi) views on a potential future international instrument in the area of civil protection orders.
The Study Group was asked to provide comments on the form and content of any potential future international instrument in the area of civil protection orders.
No matter was resolved. No report was approved.
3. Public meeting on the Hague Judgments Project
A public meeting of the Study Group on the Hague Judgments Project was held, under the auspices of the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Private International Law, on January 23, 2013 at the State Department, Office of Private International Law, State Annex 4, South Building, 23rd and D Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C. The meeting was chaired by the Assistant Legal Adviser for Private International Law.
The Hague Conference on Private International Law will host, February 18-23, 2013, two meetings related to the Judgments Project: a working group will convene to consider a possible instrument on the recognition and enforcement of judgments, followed by an experts’ group that will consider whether the Project should include issues relating to jurisdictional rules, i.e., prescribing acceptable bases of jurisdiction. The public meeting was convened to obtain comments from participants on these topics, and specifically on the papers that had been prepared by the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference.
Regarding the recognition and enforcement of judgments, the discussion covered in particular the following topics:
-The substantive scope of an instrument, i.e., what areas should be covered
-What types of judgments should be covered
-The mechanics of the recognition and enforcement scheme, e.g., conditions, grounds for refusal, procedural requirements
-Consideration of the bases of jurisdiction applicable to the underlying action on the merits
Views were expressed that the Hague Conference should not, at least at this time, undertake work on jurisdictional rules. There was also discussion of the possible use of lis pendens rules to avoid parallel proceedings.
No matter was resolved. No report was approved.