The issue of domicle is an easy one to overlook but the consequences can be catastrophic if it is not addressed properly.
Earlier this year we reported on a case in the High Court which considered the issue of domicile with regard to a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act ('the 1975 Act').
Mr Kohli was born in India where he lived and worked for 40 years. He had a wife and two sons, all of whom were based in India. In 2002 he moved to London with his son when his son started university in the UK. Mr Kohli purchased commercial and residential properties in London. He registered his businesses to pay VAT, opened a UK bank account and enrolled with his local GP. Whilst Mr Kohli was in the UK it is alleged that he had an extra marital relationship which resulted in a daughter.
Five years after the birth of his daughter Mr Kohli returned to India for a short time and died unexpectedly. Mr Kohli’s daughter advanced a claim under the 1975 Act on the basis that she had not been adequately provided for upon his death.
Mr Kohli’s widow, who was based in India, claimed that Mr Kohli was domiciled there. Should Mr Kohli’s widow have been found to be correct then any claim under the 1975 Act, regardless of its merits, would be bound to fail.
The court found that there was a considerable amount of third party evidence that Mr Kohli had not intended his final trip to India to be a one way trip. The court heard evidence from his doctor to whom Mr Kohli had told him he was travelling to India for 'rest and recuperation' and that he would be returning to the UK in a few weeks to complete his medical treatment.
Additionally the court was presented with evidence that Mr Kohli was in the process of attempting to persuade HMRC that he should be treated for tax purposes as if he resided in the UK.
Having considered all the evidence the court concluded that Mr Kohli should be treated as domiciled in the UK and as such his daughter’s claim can proceed. The issue of domicle is an easy one to overlook but the consequences can be catastrophic if it is not addressed properly.