The challenges the internet poses to private international law – ultimately the issue is whether we need definitive rules to meet the challenges or we can do something else. However, I think before we all assume that the internet has been ‘all challenges’ for the conflict of laws, we should also pause for a moment and appreciate that it is becoming beneficial in the area of international judicial co-operation, which is the fourth branch of private international law. Issues such as the service of documents and taking and receiving evidence from abroad are increasingly being addressed using electronic means.
At present the Hague Conference on Private International Law and the National Notary Association have a project which aims at ‘developing, promoting and assisting in the implementation of low-cost, operational and secure software technology for the issuance of and use of electronic Apostilles (e-Apostilles), and the creation and operation of electronic Registers of Apostilles (e-Registers)(see https://www.e-app.info/). This project complements the Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents. Certainly compared to traditional means of sending information such as through the post, the internet presents great advantages and I will not be surprised if, in future, many countries allow foreign documents to be transmitted for service there through electronic means.
There is currently emerging a body of case law which has allowed service of legal process on the internet e.g. through Facebook. The internet is also have an impact on how evidence is taken in court, especially when a witness cannot be physically present.
• How are the rules on jurisdiction and civil procedure being adapted to meet the challenges or take advantage of the opportunities presented by the internet?
• Are there any interesting cases that can be shared?
• To what extent are our respective national laws, especially those with conflict of laws dimensions, being adapted or developed for the internet age?