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Maharanee Of Baroda V. Wildenstein Notes

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FACTS In 1965 the plaintiff, an Indian princess resident in France but with long links with
England and other countries, bought for £32,920 in France a painting stated to be by
the 17th­century French artist François Boucher from the defendant, a French citizen
and world­famous art expert connected with art dealer companies in London and New
York. In December 1967 the painting was offered for sale by Sothebys in London, it
was shown to an English expert, who was said to be of opinion that it was not an
original Boucher ­ In September 1969 the plaintiff issued a specially indorsed writ in
England claiming against the defendant rescission of the contract, return of the price,
and damages; but it was not served on him until June 1970 when he was fleetingly in
England for the Ascot races. He entered an unconditional appearance but applied to
the master in chambers for an order that the action be dismissed as vexatious and an
abuse of the process of the court. Those advising the Maharanee waited till he came over here. In June 1970, M. Daniel
Wildenstein came over for the Ascot races. On Saturday, June 20, 1970, the writ was
served on him at the racecourse at Ascot. His solicitors entered an appearance. They
now seek to set the writ aside. The master and the judge have set it aside. HOLDING LORD DENNING In this case the writ has been properly served on the defendant in this country.
This makes the case very different from those in which the defendant is in a foreign
country and the plaintiff has to seek leave to serve him out of the jurisdiction. It is
also different from those cases in which the plaintiff has already started an action in
another country, and the question is whether he should be allowed to start another
action in this country on the same subject matter. In this case the plaintiff has validly
invoked the jurisdiction of our courts in this, the one and only action she has brought. We have to apply that principle to this case when the plaintiff was only able to serve
the defendant because he happened to be in this country on a short visit. The judge seems to have taken that instance given by Sir Gorell Barnes P. and founded
on it a presumption which he stated in these words: "But a presumption arises that the
proceedings are oppressive if the defendant is served when he appears to be here on a
visit." I cannot agree with that statement. There is no such presumption. If a
defendant is properly served with a writ while he is in this country, albeit on a short
visit, the plaintiff is prima facie entitled to continue the proceedings to the end. He has
validly invoked the jurisdiction of the Queen's courts; and he is entitled to require
those courts to proceed to adjudicate upon his claim. The courts should not strike it
out unless it comes within one of the acknowledged grounds, such as that it is
vexatious or oppressive, or otherwise an abuse of the process of the court: see R.S.C.,
Ord. 18, r. 19. It does not become within those grounds simply because the writ is
served on the defendant while he is on a visit to this country. If his statement of claim

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