conflict of law
n. a situation in which both state and federal laws or courts, or laws of more than one state, are applicable to a potential lawsuit or interpretation of a document and seem to be inconsistent or in conflict. The plaintiff's attorney's first problem is to decide in what state or federal court the lawsuit should be filed. This can apply to a dead person's estate with property in several states, when people earn income in several states, are involved in business in several states, or violate both state and federal laws in one scheme. Also to be considered is the issue of federal preemption, which may dictate that the federal statutes have been given a monopoly on the subject (pre-empted the field) and that a federal court must try the case, but that it will apply the laws of the state where the controversy arose.