CONFLICT OF LAWS
CHOICE OF LAW RULES RELATING TO PROPERTY IN CONFLICT OF LAWS WITH AN EMPHASIS ON THE CASE OF RE MIDLETON’S SETTLEMENT
Conflict of laws involves situations when there is a foreign element in a case. There are three main questions which arise for determination in conflict of laws: choice of jurisdiction, choice of law, and recognition and enforcement of foreign judgment.
This work relates to choice of law rules in conflict of laws as regards property with a special emphasis on the case of Re Midleton’s Settlement.
Before delving into the principles relating to this topic i.e. choice of law rules relating to property, it is very crucial to briefly examine the way in which property is classified for the purposes of the Conflict of Laws. In English domestic law, the leading distinction between proprietary interests in things is the historical and technical distinction between realty and personalty. However under English Conflict of Laws, the leading distinction between things is the more universal and natural distinction between movables and immovables. This distinction is capable of being applied to other systems of law to which the classification between realty and personalty is unknown. This enables the courts to be able to arrive at a common basis on which to determine questions between the inhabitants of two countries living under different systems jurisprudence as stated in the case of Re Hoyles per Farewell J, while immovables are an equivalent of real property that is land or any permanent structure on, above, below or attached to land, while movables are intangible interests, personal property that can be moved.
The approach adopted here will be to go through the facts, the issues, principles and the position of the court, analysis of the principles of the case which led to the decision of the court and finally a brief overview of the Re Hayward case and distinguishing of the case with the case of Re Midleton’s settlement.
FACTS OF RE MIDLETON’S SETTLEMENT
The case involved the sale of Irish settled land, proceeds of the sale where then used to purchase English securities in England. The question raised was whether estate duty was leviable in England or in Ireland; on an appeal by the defendant, the second earl of Midleton who was a tenant for life in possession under the settlement, against the trustees of the settlement for the purposes of the settled Land Act 1882.
1. Whether estate duties were leviable in England on the English investment; which by necessary implication incorporates the issues as to whether:
- The property involved is immovable or movable for the purpose of the case, in line with the principle as regards change in situs.
- The settled Lands Act 1882 will apply in determination of the nature and situation of the property.
- A forum country( in this case England ) will apply foreign laws to affect revenue situated in it .
HELD BY THE LOWER COURT: For purposes of taxation, the securities were situated in England and as such the English revenue commission could levy estate duty as opposed to the Irish revenue.
HELD ON APPEAL: That the English investments could not be considered to be Irish land by virtue of the Settled Land Act 1882, section 22 (5). For the following reasons:-
1. The settled land act 1882 having been made applicable to the Irish free state by its constitution, was an Irish act in so far as it was rendered applicable to the Irish free state and therefore had no application to English investments.
2. In any case section 22(5) of the Settled Land Act 1882, did not affect the location of investments of capital money, but only provided that they should be considered as land for all purposes of disposition,...
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