Holger Spamann (Harvard Law School): Law Matters – Less Than We Thought. Or: Do Judges Actually Follow Conflict of Law Directives?

Aktuelle Forschung im Internationalen Privatrecht

  • Datum: 06.06.2023
  • Uhrzeit: 11:00
  • Ort: Online-Veranstaltung

About the speaker:
Holger Spamann is the Lawrence R. Grove Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. His research now focuses on the law and economics of corporate governance and financial markets, judicial behavior, and comparative law, but he started out in Private International Law. Before embarking on his academic career, he practiced with Debevoise & Plimpton in New York and clerked for two years in Europe. He holds too many degrees, among them a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University. He is a member of the bar of New York and qualified for the German bar.

About the topic:
We conduct a randomized lab experiment with U.S. federal judges. The experiment puts the judges in the shoes of a judge deciding the applicable state law in a civil traffic accident case, which will determine whether a damage cap applies. We randomize the forum (with its choice of law directive) and the location of the accident in one state and the parties' common domicile in another state.
One forum applies the traditional lex loci delicti rule, which calls for the application of the law of the state where the accident happened. The other forum applies the Restatement 2nd's “most significant relationship” standard, which in our case calls for application of the law of common domicile. Judges' decisions reflect this variation, but barely so. The data suggest that they tend to have a preference for lex loci delicti, and against damages caps. By contrast, we do not find that they are biased towards the more sympathetic party, which had been a third experimental treatment in our study.

About the virtual workshop series:
The virtual workshop series „Current Research in Private International Law” is organised by Ralf Michaels and Michael Cremer. The series features guest speakers and Institute staff members who present and discuss their work on current developments and research topics in private international law. The workshops are geared to scholars who are researching in the field of private international law, but attendance is open to all individuals having an academic interest (including doctoral candidates and students).

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