Case Alert - [2018] EWHC 160 (Ch)

Judge considers whether defendant was domiciled in England when he was served with a claim form

A claim form was served on the defendant in London in May 2017. The claim had no connection with England and so the only basis on which the English court was said to have jurisdiction was that the defendant was domiciled here.

This case therefore involved an investigation by the judge as to whether the defendant was domiciled here or in Switzerland at the time of service. It was common ground that the defendant had intended to leave England and move to Switzerland: the issue was whether that had been achieved by the date of service.

The judge noted that, under English law, a person is domiciled in the UK if he is resident here and the nature and circumstances of residence indicate that he has a substantial connection with the UK (which is presumed to be fulfilled if he has been resident here for the last 3 months or more). After reviewing prior caselaw, the judge noted that for residence to cease, there has to be a distinct break, in the sense of an alteration in the pattern of the individual's life in the UK. An intention to cease residing is relevant but not determinative.

The test is highly fact-specific but in this case it was held that the defendant had taken sufficient steps before April 2017 to move his residence to Switzerland and so was not resident here when the claim form was served on him. He had taken steps to leave before the end of the tax year and he made only one visit to England after the end of March 2017. Furthermore, the judge held that he was resident in Switzerland before April 2017, even though he only had temporary places to stay there at that time.