57 UMKC L. Rev. 681 (1988-1989)
Borrowing Statutes, Statutes of Limitations and Modern Choice of Law

handle is hein.journals/umkc57 and id is 683 raw text is: BORROWING STATUTES, STATUTES
OF LIMITATIONS AND MODERN
CHOICE OF LAW
Ibrahim J. Wani*
Conflicts among statutes of limitations are fairly common and yet the issue
gets little attention in conflict of laws discourse. Courts generally deal with such
conflicts in a deceptively simple manner and conflicts scholars give them only
passing reference. Typically, statutes of limitations are characterized as procedural
rules and the forum always applies its statute of limitation irrespective of the
degree of contact between the forum and the parties or the dispute.
Although the procedural characterization is based on highly debatable ra-
tionales, it was consistent with jurisprudential notions prevalent at the time of
its origination. First, it represents a formalistic approach to legal problem solving.
The designation of the statute of limitation as procedural was all that was
necessary to resolve the apparent conflict, and there was no inquiry into the
equity of the result reached, the parties' expectations, or the other state's interests
in the outcome of the case, for example. Second, abstract symbols of character-
ization were often used. It is not apparent why a statute of limitation should be
regarded as a procedural rule, and it is generally conceded that the characterization
lacks concrete meaning.' Third, conceptions of territorial sovereignty underlie
this approach. The forum applies its statute of limitation because, of course, it
has the power-authority to control what happens in its courts or within its
territorial boundaries.2
Traditional conflict of laws focused on disputes over substantive legal issues
while questions involving procedural rules were generally not regarded as raising
conflict of laws issues. The substance/procedure dichotomy represents a number
of popular legal ideas. In terms of styles of legal reasoning, it was conceptual
and formalistic. The first task of judicial decision making was to label or
characterize the issue-i.e., whether substantive or procedural. Characterization
was highly abstract and largely ad hoc. Once the issue is characterized, the result
or conclusion then followed in a syllogistic manner. In other words, characteri-
* Assistant Professor of Law, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law; LL.B.,
1975, Markerere University-Uganda; LL.M., 1981, University of Virginia. The author wishes to thank
Nancy Levit for her comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this paper.
1. See, e.g., Sun Oil Co. v. Worfman,  - U.S.  -, 108 S.Ct. 2117, 2124 (1988); and
Guarantee Trust Co. v. York, 326 U.S. 99, 108 (1945).
2. See J. STORY, COMMINTARMS ON THE CONFLICT OF LAWS, § 18 (2nd ed. 1841). For further
discussion of the traditional approach see infra note 59 and accompanying text.

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