Exam No. ________ Dean Henry H. Perritt, Jr.                                                                                                                 Spring, 1999

Conflict of Laws                                                                                                                                 Time: _____

Chicago-Kent College of Law
Final Examination in Conflicts of Law
  1. This examination consists of 2 pages. Please check to make certain you have the complete examination.
  2. Read these instructions carefully and read each question carefully. Think each problem through before you write and treat every appropriate issue in each question. Be direct and concise.
  3. Answers will be graded upon the reasons given as well as the conclusions drawn. If more than one reason is pertinent to an answer, state every reason.
  4. While you have been permitted to bring materials into the examination room, answering the questions appropriately will put time pressure on you. You should not do extensive research during the examination. Credit will be weighted according to the time allocations shown. Manage your time accordingly.
  5. You may decide, in answering one or more questions, that a complete answer would require legal research. If this is so, you should identify the specific issue that you would research. If you have a mastery of the basic concepts, you will be able to frame research issues very narrowly and precisely.
  6. It also may be that more factual information is required to answer a question. If this is the case, you should say what factual information is required and why you need it. A mastery of the underlying concepts will permit you to frame any factual inquiries very narrowly and link them precisely to the legal issue involved.
  7. Organization and clarity are very important. A shorter answer that is well organized and evidences a clear understanding of basic concepts and their interrelationships is better than a long answer with disconnected fragments of information.
  8. Do not write outside the margins of your bluebook pages.
  9. Write your examination number on your bluebook(s) and on each page of this examination. Do not use your name.
  10. When you have finished the examination place it inside your bluebook(s) and deposit them in the appropriate box in the examination room.
Any material including any outlines whether commercially prepared or not, whether accessible by computer or not. No communication by e-mail is permitted during the exam.




For May

Conflict of Laws Final Examination


Question I.

(120 minutes)

Susan and John entered into a common law marriage in state A when they both were domiciled there. Both are domiciled in state B now. John owned real property in state C. Unbeknownst to Susan, John earlier had married Samantha in a conventional ceremony in state F. John got a default divorce in foreign country D. Samantha got a notice in the mail of the divorce proceeding in D but threw it away. Samantha had never been to D. John was killed in an automobile accident in state E by a drunk driver.

State A recognizes common law marriages but not polygamous marriages. None of the other states involved in this question recognize either common law or polygamous marriages.

Foreign country D allows no fault divorce when actual notice is given to the other spouse. All other jurisdictions deny divorces in their forums unless the court has personal jurisdiction over the other spouse under the usual United States rules of personal jurisdiction.

State E has a statute providing for both punitive damages and triple actual compensatory damages against a drunk driver who causes wrongful death. That statute also requires arbitration of any claim under the statute, subject to limited judicial review. It prohibits suit in the regular courts. All other relevant jurisdictions have wrongful death statutes but do not allow for triple damages or require arbitration.

The intestate succession laws of state C (John died without a will) give one half of any real property to the wife, with the remaining half going to the state. The purpose of the statute is to provide for the spouse of the decedent, while providing an incentive to write a will. All other relevant states provide for the wife to get all real estate owned by the decedent when the couple have no children. John had no children.

1.    (a)    What is the best argument for Susan to get as much of the real estate as possible?
       (b)    What is the best argument for Samantha to get as much of the real estate as possible?
2.    Suppose Susan and Samantha jointly sue the drunk driver in federal court in state B. That court has personal jurisdiction over the drunk driver because he was served while on a brief vacation in state B. Susan and Samantha can prove $500,000 actual compensatory damages against the drunk driver.

        (a)    What is the best argument for the plaintiffs to receive the maximum possible damages?
        (b)    What is the best argument for the drunk driver to minimize any damages award?
        (c)    How should the drunk driver’s argument that the claim must be submitted to arbitration in state E be resolved?

Question II.

(60 minutes)

Cyberplex operates a World Wide Web server connected to the Internet in England. Cyberplex is incorporated in that country, and all of its personnel are domiciled there. None has ever been to the United States. The Web server allows users to purchase corporate securities by credit card over the Web.

Richard Collins is domiciled in state A. Several months ago, he used the Cyberplex Web server to purchase $2000 of stock in an English company, which subsequently turned out to have no significant assets, profits, or operations.

Collins has never been to England.

Cyberplex sues Collins in the English high court, serving him by mail. Collins does not respond, and Cyberplex receives a default judgement for $2000.

Collins sues Cyberplex (and other appropriate defendants) in the Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois, serving Cyberplex by mail under the Illinois Long Arm Statute, which you should assume extends jurisdiction to the limits permitted by the United States Constitution. Cyberplex does not appear, and Collins receives a default judgement of $3000.

England has implemented the Brussels Convention for jurisdiction and judgement enforcement.

1.    Suppose Cyberplex now files suit in Illinois to enforce the English default judgement. What are Collins’ best arguments to defend against enforcement? Assess his prospects of success and explain why

2.    Suppose Cyberplex does not seek enforcement in Illinois, but Collins wishes to enforce his Illinois judgement against Cyberplex’s assets, which are located only in England. How should he proceed, what are his prospects of success, and why?

3.    What difference, if any, would it make if Cyberplex were located in Alabama and all of the other activities related to Cyberplex, including its lawsuit, had taken place in Alabama instead of England?