Rainford and Others v Newell-Roberts

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
Judgment Date31 July 1961
Date31 July 1961
Republic of Ireland, High Court.

(Davitt P.)

Rainford, Boston and Graham
and
Newell-Roberts.

Jurisdiction — Personal — Over nationals abroad — Civil matters — Whether nationality alone a ground for jurisdiction by the courts — The law of Ireland.

The Facts.—The plaintiffs, together with the defendant, had been members of a partnership in medical practice in England. In 1953, Dr. Newell-Roberts, the defendant, who was a British subject, left the partnership and took up permanent residence in Ireland. Subsequent to his departure a claim from the English revenue authorities in respect of income tax due from the partnership for the period up to 1953 was met by the three plaintiffs. However, they were unsuccessful in obtaining Dr. Newell-Roberts's agreement to pay his share of the income tax. Accordingly, they obtained a judgment in the English High Court against him in respect of his share of the joint tax liability of the partnership. Notice of these proceedings had been served on the defendant, but he had taken no part in them. The plaintiffs then brought proceedings in the Irish High Court to enforce the English judgment.

Held: that the action must fail. As the defendant had not submitted to the jurisdiction of the English courts, and as nationality did not operate to confer jurisdiction upon them, he could not be sued on the English judgment in Ireland.

Davitt P. said (in part): ‘This is an action based upon a foreign judgment in personam. Generally a valid foreign judgment in personam may be enforced by an action here for the amount of the judgment debt, provided that the judgment is for a definite sum of money and is final and conclusive. The judgment sued on fulfills these two conditions; but the defendant queries its validity on the grounds that he was not at any time, in the course of the proceedings resulting in the judgment, resident, present or domiciled in England; was not subject to the jurisdiction of the Court; and did not appear in the action or otherwise submit to the jurisdiction. To this the plaintiffs reply that he was at all material times a British subject and amenable to the jurisdiction. The defendant was not in fact at any material time resident or present in England; nor did he appear or otherwise submit to the jurisdiction. He was, however, at all material times a British subject and the only question to decide on this branch of the case is whether this is sufficient to render him amenable to the jurisdiction.

‘Dicey, in his Conflict of Laws (1st ed., 1896, Rule 80, at p. 369), states:

‘These propositions were adumbrated in the case of The General Steam Navigation...

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4 cases
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