González Gómez v Gómez-Monche Vives


Reference:
[2009] Ch 245 (CA)

Date:
3rd October 2008

Court:
Court of Appeal

Comment:

This was an application by a defendant, resident in Spain, challenging the court’s jurisdiction under Council Regulation (EC) 44/2001. The Regulation governs the jurisdiction of the English court when a defendant is resident in the E.U. She was being sued by a beneficiary of a trust who alleged that the trustees, in breach of trust, had made distributions to her (also a beneficiary) to which she was not entitled. Art. 5(6) of the Regulation confers a special jurisdiction in trust matters. Morgan J. ruled that the court had no jurisdiction. On appeal –

Held:

(i) the fact that the proper law of the trust was English made the trust “domiciled” in England for the purpose of art. 5(6) and (ii) the court had jurisdiction, because the defendant was being sued “as … beneficiary” within art. 5(6), the claim being that she had received distributions in excess of her entitlement. There was no appeal from Morgan J.’s decision that the court could not have declined to exercise jurisdiction on grounds of forum non conveniens.

 

English-law trusts with international elements are common. Here the beneficiaries were Spanish, the trustees were based in Liechtenstein and the B.V.I. and the trust property was shares in a Cayman company. The scope of art. 5(6) of the Judgements Regulation, which allows service abroad in most of Europe without permission, is crucial for the enforcement of such trusts. The decision defines the scope of the jurisdiction of the English to enforce English-law trusts even though the defendant is based elsewhere in the E.U.

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