Lottery Scots win cross-border skirmish!

Posted: 30th October 2013

RCJIn an unusual jurisdictional tussle, a Scottish couple who won a record £161 million lottery jackpot have convinced the English High Court that it has no power to hear a claim that they unlawfully pulled out of design and build contracts for lavish improvements to their home.

When Colin and Christine Weir scooped the EuroMillions jackpot in 2011 they were Britain’s biggest ever lottery winners. They said they intended to have ‘so much fun’ and were true to their word when plans were revealed for upgrades to the home in Ayrshire which they had bought with £850,000 of their winnings.

Their proposals included a £320,000 greenhouse, a £47,000 semi-circular garden room and a £380,000 pool house. However, Oak Leaf Conservatories Limited later issued High Court proceedings, accusing the couple of unlawfully repudiating design, manufacture and installation contracts. The company claimed it had lost £290,000.

Mr and Mrs Weir argued that, as they are domiciled in Scotland, the English courts had no jurisdiction to entertain the company’s claim. Oak Leaf countered that it did not actively pursue business in Scotland. The company’s only workshops were in York; it did not specifically advertise its services north of the border and it had only ever performed two contracts in Scotland.

The Court found that, by virtue of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982, exclusive jurisdiction to hear the company’s claim was vested in the courts of Scotland. Although Oak Leaf’s business was primarily focused on England, it was apparent from the company’s websites and its overall activity that it envisaged doing business with consumers domiciled in Scotland.

Striking out the company’s claim, the Court concluded, "Oak Leaf pursues commercial activities in Scotland and directs its activities to Scotland. These proceedings may therefore only be brought against the Weirs in the courts of Scotland."