Learn about the two types of international law

Due to globalization, technology, and the many legal transactions involved, international law has become increasingly important. It should be noted that it has two components: public international law and private international law. Find out what makes them different and what their applications are.

What does international law consist of?

It is used to put rules in place concerning certain aspects that can influence all humans (the seas, the environment, human rights, trade…). This branch of law is divided into two parts: public and private.

Public international law concerns the obligations and rights existing between countries and international organizations*. The means of action used are, among others, conventions, treaties, protocols, agreements, declarations, recognition of customs…

For example, the Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement focused on climate change. When it comes to relations and law between citizens of different countries, this aspect falls under private international law.

By consulting a law firm specializing in international law, you can be sure that you will receive guidance and sound advice throughout the process. Sabbagh & Associates Inc. is a reference of choice in this field. Our law firm has an important network of correspondents on different continents.
*for example, the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization [OMC].

What is public international law?

Sometimes these conflicts may involve human rights issues. State sovereignty is a major principle that is respected in international law: a country can freely refuse or accept to sign an agreement or any other international agreement.

What are the particularities of private international law?

This section deals specifically with the principles, customs, conventions and transactions between people from different countries. It can also be involved in certain commercial exchanges. For example, when a person buys an item sold on the Internet from a company in a foreign country and there is a problem, the rules of private international law apply. Another example: a married couple living in Quebec – a Quebecer and an American [née aux États-Unis] – who wish to divorce must consult the rules of private international law to determine whether a Quebec court or a U.S. court will grant the divorce.

Patent and copyright issues may also fall under this branch of law when citizens of different countries are involved. In Quebec, private law is an essentially jurisprudential body; in this Canadian province, the courts rely primarily on the common law.

The “common law” originates from the British legal system [1922] and differs from civil law. By official definition, “civil law is based on the primacy and absolute character of the rights of the person [dont les droits de la propriété].

What is the role of a lawyer specialized in international law?

It helps citizens or companies to ensure that their rights as well as the [tout comme les lois qui les concernent] regulations will be respected. It can be used as a proxy to prepare a strategy and to defend a person [physique ou morale]or a group in court. It is recommended that an international lawyer be consulted when one of the parties resides in a foreign country; when one of the parties involved has a foreign nationality; when damages have been suffered in a country outside of Canada; or when a commercial or employment contract is being executed [ou le sera] in a foreign country.

This lawyer can also intervene in the context of an expatriation. He can also assist his clients in many real estate and estate-related matters [house purchase, mortgage negotiation in Quebec, elsewhere in Canada and abroad, international estate litigation, civil liability…].

The use of an expert in international law allows you to understand the procedure and the substantive rules that must be respected in the context of your case as well as the administrative steps that it requires.

NOTE: This article does not constitute legal advice or the opinion of an international law attorney. Rather, it is provided solely to inform readers of certain aspects of private and public international law.