Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Locus Regit Actum Definition:

Latin: The law of the place where the facts occurred.

Related Terms: Conflict of Laws, Mobilia Sequuntur Personam, Immobilia Situa, Lex Loci Contractus, Lex Loci, Forum Conveniens

A maxim for resolving conflicts of law.

Not readily accepted in the common law but well-entrenched in the civil law.

Totterham, in his 1953 article, described locus regit actum as the law of the place where the facts occurred adding:

"The rule ... locus regit actum has long been established in the law of marriage, and the law of wills and it is probably a part of the law of contracts, and the law of bills of exchange and promissory notes ....

"The elasticity of the rule depends not least on the fact that four sperate problems arise in applying it:

  • Which is the place where the relevant facts have occurred?
  • What are the relevant facts....;
  • To which transactions do we apply the rule; and
  • Does the local law govern exclusively?"

James Ballentine's law dictionary (1969):

"Locus regit actum: The place governs the act. The meaning of the maxim is that the place where a contract is entered into governs the manner in which it shall be formally solemnized."

In Pritchard v Norton, Justice Matthews of the United States Supreme Court adopted this summary of the law as to conflicts of law and their resolutions, circa 1882:

"Obligations in respect to the mode of their solemnization are subject to the rule locus regit actum; in respect to their interpretation, to the lex loci contractus; in respect to the mode of their performance, to the law of the place of their performance.

"But the lex fori determines when and how such laws, when foreign, are to be adopted, and, in all cases not specified above, supplies the applicatory law."


  • Anderson, W., Ballentine's Law Dictionary, 3rd Ed. (Rochester: LCP, 1969), page 752.
  • Hodgson v De Beauchesne, 12 Moo. P.C. 285 (at 308, locus regit actum is mentioned but provides no guidance as to the import of the term)
  • Pritchard v. Norton, 106 US 124, (1882)
  • Totterman, R.E.B., Functional Bases of the Rule Locus Regit Actum in English Conflict Rules, 2 ICLQ 27 (1953)

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