Private international law refers to a collection of laws that determine which jurisdiction will be applied in a specific legal case. In this definition, jurisdiction usually refers to a location, such as a state, in which certain laws are followed although they are not necessarily imposed on other areas. Consequently, these laws can also determine where a hearing will be held, if one is needed. Private international law is usually consulted if some party to the case has a stake in an unrelated jurisdiction: for example, a Chinese immigrant in the USA. Several cases that may involve these laws are human trafficking, terrorism, and cyber-crime cases.
On an international level, private international law can be very complex, as its purpose is to reach a middle ground in recognizing and implementing national laws, but at the same time, acknowledging each country’s own set of laws. Sometimes, these laws — sometimes called "conflict of" laws — also have to acknowledge the laws related to business establishments, while still implementing national or foreign laws. Cases can sometimes be more complicated when countries have multiple jurisdictions, such as in the US, where each state can be an individual jurisdiction.
In general, there are three elements involved in private international law. The first of these is jurisdiction, which determines what court system can handle a cases if given authority by judges. Second to the jurisdiction is the choice of law, the process that decides which set of laws will be used in resolving the case and determining the final verdict. The third element is the foreign judgments, or the agreement to impose the laws coming from a jurisdiction to another jurisdiction.
Conflict cases, or cases that will have to use the private international law, undergo a complex process. The first step allows related courts to decide which jurisdiction should handle the case, after which the cause of action, or the details that justify plaintiffs to make a case against a defendant, will undergo the second stage of characterization or classification. The process of choice of law will then determine which legal system will be used for the case. In order for a law to be applied, attorneys should first prove its applicability, usually by citing a written source such as the US Constitution. Once proof of law is shown, the law can then be enforced, but the winning party should obtain a “cross-border” notice in order for the other party to follow the law even outside the jurisdiction.