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In Search of the Holy Grail of the Conflict of Laws of Cultural Property: Recent Trends in European Private International Law Codifications

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 November 2020

Tamás Szabados*
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary; Email:


Most private international laws do not address cultural property specifically but, instead, apply the general lex rei sitae rule also to artifacts. Legal scholarship has revealed the flaws of the rigid application of the lex rei sitae principle to cultural goods and has proposed alternative connecting factors, such as the lex originis principle, to prevent forum and law shopping in this field. Reacting to the criticisms, some of the more recent private international law codifications have decided on the adoption of specific rules on stolen and illegally exported cultural goods that combine the lex rei sitae and the lex originis rules and provide room for the parties’ autonomy. This article draws the conclusion that these more recent legislative solutions do not necessarily promote legal certainty and predictability with regard to the governing law and are far from being a Holy Grail for the conflict of laws of cultural property, whether on a national level or within the European Union.

© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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