Must an English firm of Solicitors sue its Scottish clients in Scotland?

In a rare case concerning the allocation of jurisdiction between the constituent parts of the UK, the Court of Appeal (CoA) has considered the provisions of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 in the context of whether a defendant who lived and was domiciled in Scotland was required to be sued there. The case involved a claim by an English law firm, Hewitsons, for payment of its outstanding fees in relation to a probate matter. Hewitsons issued proceedings in the English Courts, which the defendant sought to have transferred to Scotland.

As the defendant was a consumer, the main issue for the defendant’s appeal was whether there was sufficient evidence that Hewitsons were involved in the provision of legal services in Scotland so as to require proceedings to be issued there. Lord Justice Lewison considered on the evidence that they were not and that, despite arguments to the contrary, Hewitsons’ membership of an international network of firms did not infer otherwise. Accordingly, Hewitsons were correct to issue in the English Courts and the appeal (and second appeal) were both dismissed.

From a legal viewpoint, this case involves an interesting analysis of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 (being the Act which applies the principles of the Brussels Regulation to the allocation of jurisdiction within the United Kingdom itself) and appears to be the first case to consider whether an English firm of solicitors directs its activities to Scotland therefore obliging it to sue for its fees in Scotland.

Hewitsons LLP v Wood [2014] EWCA Civ 1698

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