What is the Renvoi Doctrine?
The Renvoi Doctrine is a judicial precept whereby the Conflict of Laws Rule in the place of the forum refer a matter to the Conflict of Laws Rule in another, and the latter refers the matter back to the forum (remission) or to a third state (transmission). Thus, owing to its french translation: “to send back” or “to refer back unopened”.
It becomes relevant in cases where the individual involved is a national of one country and a domiciliary of another; or with respect to property, the property is located in one country and the law of another is being invoked relative to the issues concerning the property. So much so that where an individual (a decedent) is a national and a domiciliary of one country (say, Texas U.S.), there can be no Renvoi as to the issue concerning the validity of his disposition by virtue of the will here in the Philippines since it is the law of the nationality which is to be applied and there was no instance of the matter being referred back (Bellis vs. Bellis; Note that in the case, the Doctrine of Processual Presumption was applied).
An example where the Renvoi Doctrine was applied was in the case of Aznar vs. Garcia. The Decedent was a national of California and a domiciliary of the Philippines. The acknowledged natural child claimed her right to her legitime pursuant to Philippine law. This was opposed by the decedent’s executor contending that the will, not mentioning her legitimes, was valid pursuant to Californian law. The Court in the Philippines ruled in favor of the child. The reason: while the Philippine laws hold that it is the law of the country of nationality of the decedent which should govern, where the law of the latter refers back the matter to the forum or domiciliary, there is Renvoi. Thus the Philippine Court will take cognizance of the issue and apply the law of the Philippines. The law of the state of California provides for the applicBility of the law of the domicile, by reason of which the Court validly ruled in favor of the acknowledged natural child.