For the students who have studied Private International law or Conflict of Laws, they will definitely know the difficulty of understanding as well as explaining to the fellow colleague, the all confusing term ‘Renvoi’. For the persons, who do not know what is Private international law, let me give a small intro of it. Basically, a branch of jurisprudence where the citizens of different nations interact or transact business with one another. The extent of private international law shifts from nation to nation and every country has its principles. The most significant and fundamental subject of the conflict of laws is the doctrine of Renvoi. According to some experts, the theory should have no place in Private International law while some are in favour of its retention.
The problem of renvoi arises in connection with the application of ‘law of the country’. Law of the country means the internal law of that particular country. The literal meaning of the French word “Renvoi” basically means “send back or return unopened”. It often happens that the rules of Private international law either refer back to the law of the forum or refer forward to a third country. For example, A, a British subject domiciled in Italy dies intestate leaving behind movable property in England. He had two relatives namely B & C. the matter was adjudicated in a British court. According to C, the property should be divided in accordance with the Italian laws where as B says that it should be according to the English laws. If the English law rejects the doctrine of renvoi, then the Italian internal law of the country would apply, but, if it accepts it, then, it would first ascertain the Italian rule of private international law concerning succession viz; the Italian law governs succession of movable properties according to the nationality, then again it would accept back the reference and decide in favour of B. To confuse the students even more, the writers have divided the concept of renvoi into 2 parts.
Countries like Italy, Luxembourg and Spain have the concept of single renvoi. Under this concept, there is a conflict of rules / law of 2 countries and the court of the respective country in which the case is filed, sends the case to that foreign country but if according to that foreign country the case is referred back to the country in which the case is filed and that country’s court accepts it, then the law of that court’s country is finally applied. In the most popular case of Re Ross, where an English woman who was domiciled in Italy left her property according to the will both in Italy and England. The issue was that whether the property would go to her only son who was in England or be divided according to the laws of Italy where half the property was situated. The will was valid in English Law, but invalid in Italy as a large portion of her property was not left by her for her child. As the concept of Renvoi back is not acknowledged in Italy, the court applied English law.
Countries like England, Spain and France follow double renvoi. The concept of double renvoi has been explained with the help of a case of an Irish national who was residing in Spain, domiciled in Italy and when he died, he left some immovable property in France. The case was filed in France. According to the Spanish law, it takes into account the law of the deceased viz Italy. As Italy follows single renvoi, it wont accept double renvoi, therefore the court of France applied Italian law. The said doctrine obliges the English judges to ascertain as a fact that the precise doctrine that the foreign court would give. This confronts him with two difficulties. First, he must ascertain what view prevails in the foreign country with regard to the doctrine of single renvoi. Secondly, where the foreign rule for choice of law selects the national law of the propitious, the judge must ascertain what is meant by national law.
Some countries such as Greece, Denmark and U.S do not accept double renvoi or no renvoi at all.
In the world of more than 200 countries, each of them have their separate legal system likewise a marriage may be valid in one country but can be considered as invalid in another country. The thin line of difference between single & double renvoi is that in the case of single renvoi, the court is not obliged to ask how foreign court would choose the matter nor is any probability that the foreign court will accept the renvoi. The doctrine if Renvoi has to be applied with reference to law of domicile, law of place of immovable property etc. As far as double renvoi is concerned, the judges put themselves in the shoes of the foreign nation. In absence of any renvoi, the court follows the internal law.
 M. Anulekha-The Doctrine of Renvoi in Private International Law, The elaboration of Doctrine of Renvoi in Private International Law (ipleaders.in), visited on 05-07-2021 at 15:11hrs.
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