High Court Examines Jurisdictional Issues in Trust Dispute Under English Courts

Citation: [2024] EWHC 636 (Ch)
Judgment on


The case of Darren Scott & Ors v Antony Walker & Ors involved the High Court of Justice examining jurisdictional issues within the United Kingdom, specifically concerning claims against trustees of a trust with its roots in Scottish law, but which was questioned under English jurisdiction. Central to the case was the 1901 Order establishing the Body of Trustees for the Urr Navigation, referred to as the UNT, and whether actions taken by individuals alleged to represent the UNT were lawful. The court was tasked with determining if it was the proper venue to adjudicate the dispute.

Key Facts

  • The UNT, initially created by the Urr Navigation Order 1901, is associated with harbour maintenance in Kirkcudbright, Scotland.

  • A controversy arose when a group claiming to represent the UNT made financial and property transactions around 2021 that the claimants argued were unlawful.

  • The claimants issued a Part 8 Claim in English Court, while a defendant contested jurisdiction, arguing Scotland was the more appropriate forum for these issues.

  • Jurisdictional rules under the Civil Jurisdiction & Judgments Act 1982 (CJJA), Schedule 4, were pivotal in determining if the English court could entertain the case.

  • The key topics discussed in the case involved the definitions of a trust, the domicile of a trust for jurisdictional purposes, exclusive jurisdiction in relation to disputes about land, company dissolution, and the appropriateness of a forum for litigation.

The court applied several legal principles:

  1. Domicile and Trust Jurisdiction: Focusing on the domicile of the trust, it applied the principles from the CJJA and relevant case law (e.g., Gomez v. Gomez-Monche Vives) to conclude that the trust must have its most real connection with English law to assert jurisdiction.

  2. Statutory Trusts and the Seat of a Body Corporate: The court deliberated whether the UNT had characteristics of a trust or a corporate body, referencing the Schlosser Report and the Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Trusts.

  3. Exclusive Jurisdiction: The court reviewed Sch. 4 CJJA provisions regarding exclusive jurisdiction in cases concerning land (lex situs) and company dissolution, providing analogies to the UNT dispute despite not being directly applied in this case.

  4. Forum Non Conveniens: Under the principle detailed in Spiliada Maritime Corp v. Cansulex, the court examined if England or Scotland was the more appropriate forum, based on witness and document location, the applicable law, and the nature of the relief sought.


The court concluded that:

  • The English Courts lacked jurisdiction over the matter.
  • Scotland was the domicile of the trust due to the close connection of the UNT with Scottish law.
  • Even if jurisdiction existed, it would be appropriate for the claims to be stayed on forum non conveniens grounds.
  • As such, the proceedings were to be dismissed.


In Darren Scott & Ors v Antony Walker & Ors, the court demonstrated the complexity associated with jurisdictional issues between differing legal jurisdictions within the UK. It highlighted the significance of domicile, the nature of statutory trusts, and the paramountcy of identifying the most appropriate forum for litigation. The court arrived at a decision that underscores the importance of local connection and specificity in the formation, operation, and ultimate resolvement of legal bodies and trusts.