Dalhousie Law Journal


Moffatt Hancock


Anti-guest statutes, marital immunity, conflict of laws, constitutional limitations


In the now historic case of Babcock v. Jackson, decided in 1963, the New York Court of Appeals introduced an apparently novel mode of analyzing tort choice-of-law issues that has achieved remarkable popularity with the judges of other states. It has been adopted in tort cases where the facts and issues were quite different from those of Babcock v. Jackson and in contract cases as well. Why does the Babcock v. Jackson methodology appeal so strongly to the judges of the highest state tribunals? The short answer is that this methodology is extremely realistic; it brings the judges directly to grips with the basic elements of the choice problem: two divergent rules of law producing divergent practical results and effectuating divergent policies. Of these two rules the judges must choose one. The new methodology emancipates them from the simplistic place of injury formula with its distracting and misleading escape devices. It enables them to base their choice upon a rational consideration of the policies and effects of each of the proffered rules in relation to the domiciles of the parties and the location of other significant facts in the case.