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Renvoi Doctrine in the Conflict of Laws -- Meaning of "The Law of a Country," 27 Yale Law Journal 509 (1918)


Some years ago in writing on the present subject the author made the statement that the renvoi doctrine was no part of the conflict of laws of the United States. In the light of certain more recent decisions or judicial utterances the question may properly be asked again: Should the courts of the United States adopt the renvoi theory in the conflict of laws? Although no discussion of the problem is yet to be found in any American decision, there are cases in which the renvoi doctrine has been sanctioned either expressly or by necessary implication. The case of Guernsey v. The Imperial Bank of Canada and the case of Lando v. Lando may serve as illustrations. In the former case an action was brought in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Wyoming against the indorser of a promissory note. The note was made and indorsed in Illinois, but it was payable in Canada. Presentment, demand and protest were made, and notice of dishonor was given in compliance with the law of Canada; but the indorser claimed that the notice would have been insufficient to charge the indorser if the note had been payable in Illinois. The court below held that the notice was good and rendered judgment against the indorser. The latter's counsel insisted that the ruling was error on the ground that the sufficiency of the notice was governed by the law of the place of indorsement and not by the law of the place of payment. On appeal, the learned court made the following remarks concerning the above contention:

"To this contention there is a short and conclusive answer. The place of the indorsement was the state of Illinois. The law of that state was, when the indorsement was made, and it still is, that when commercial paper is indorsed in one jurisdiction and is payable in another the law of the place where it is payable governs the time and mode of presentment for payment, the manner of protest, and the time and manner of giving notice of dishonor, and the law of the place of indorsement is inapplicable to them. Wooley v. Lyon, II7 Ill. 248, 250,.6 N. E. 885, 886, 57 Am. Rep. 867. If, therefore, as counsel contend, the law of the place where the indorsement was made,- the law of Illinois, governs the sufficiency of the notice of dishonor in this case that notice was good, for it was sufficient under the law of Ca1zad~ where the note was payable, and the law of Illinois was that in a case of this character the law of the place where ,the note was payable governed the time and manner of giving the notice of dishonor."

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