Example of a complicated conflict of laws problem

AAA, a dual citizen -- Filipino and French, intended to go to Germany after his stay in France where he is a domiciliary under a permanent residence grant. So, he bought a two-way plane ticket from Air France Philippines, Inc. via a contract of sale that provides that any claim arising from injury of a passenger must be brought within 2 years from the date of occurrence and any award of damages to the passenger shall be subjected to a 10% interest rate per annum. Air France Philippines, Inc., although registered in the Philippines, has its main office in Paris, France.Unfortunately, in mid-air and within the air space of Germany, the plane exploded due to an engine malfunction. AAA died as a result, leaving a car in Germany, a house in France, and 2-hectare agricultural land in the Philippines.

AAA's family went to Germany and decided to bury his remains there. They discovered that AAA and his fiancee, BBB (a French woman), jointly executed a last will and testament in Germany after discovering that German law mandates that 5% of the decedent's estate shall be awarded to the deceased's fiance or fiancee as a compulsory heir. This last will was executed by AAA and BBB before a German notary public, following the formalities required under German law.

Aggrieved, AAA's family flew back to the Philippines and, after one year, instituted two separate actions: one, for the probate of the will of AAA; and, another, an action for breach of contract and damages against Air France Philippines, Inc., claiming the reasonable amount of Php5,000,000.00.

Under French law, there is no requirement of extraordinary diligence for common carriers. Also, French law mandates that the interest rate on damages arising from torts committed by airlines be at 20% per annum. Under French law, houses and parcels of land left by a decedent foreigner (non-French) shall not be transmitted via succession but shall be forfeited in favor of the French Government. 

Under German law, the maximum damages that may be awarded to the family of a passenger who died due to an airline mishap is equivalent to Php2,000,000.00 only. Also, German law states that the interest rate on the award of damages for such accidents shall be 15% per annum. Finally, German law states that the action for damages arising from tort shall expire after 6 months from occurrence.

German authorities required all parts of the wrecked plane and all remains that are unclaimed to be put under legal custody, pending its investigation of the incident. All witnesses to the tragedy are German citizens.

[Discussion on the legal principles involved will be added after class discussion on September 08, 2023 (Friday). -- Atty. Dela Peña]