High Tech International AG & Others v Deripaska

Reference: [2006] EWHC 3276 (QB); [2007] EMLR 449

Court: Queen's Bench Division

Judge: Eady J

Date of judgment: 20 Dec 2006

Summary: Defamation - Jurisdiction - Judgments Regulations - Domicile

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Appearances: Adrienne Page QC - Leading Counsel (Defendant)  Jacob Dean (Defendant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Baker McKenzie for the Claimant; Bryan Cave for the Defendant

Facts

The Defendant, one of the richest men in the world, was sued over statements which he was alleged to have made to the Russian prosecuting authorities, in Russia, in 1995. The Claimants, an individual resident in Iraq and two foreign corporations, brought proceedings in the English High Court, claiming that the Defendant was domiciled within the jurisdiction for the purpose of the Judgments Regulations, and so could be sued here as of right.

Issue

Were the Claimants able to demonstrate a good arguable case that Mr Deripaska was domiciled in the UK?

Held

The Defendant’s ownership of two large houses in the UK, and the existence of some business and personal connections with the UK, was not sufficient to establish a good arguable case that he was domiciled in the UK.

Comment

Since Owusu v Jackson [2005] QB 801 a person domiciled in the UK can be sued here irrespective of whether the claim in question has any legal or factual connection with this jurisdiction. A finding of domicile can therefore have very wide-ranging consequences. Eady J held that Mr Deripaska was “very much a modern phenomenon”, “truly an international businessman”. He therefore derived little assistance from previous cases in which property owernship in the UK had led to findings of UK residence. The judgment is a welcome reassurance to others who use London for business purposes, and own property here for that reason, that the Court will take a robust approach to allegations of resulting residence.