Panagaki v (1) Apostolopoulos (2) Despotidou (3) Minetta SA General Insurance (2015)

Facts

C sustained catastrophic injuries in a road accident in Greece in March 2014, in respect of which she sought damages from the driver, owner and insurer of the vehicle, all of whom were domiciled in Greece.  C had been born in Greece to a British mother and Greek father. She held dual nationality and used a British passport. Her parents had a house in Athens where she had grown up and her grandmother had a house in London where she said spent her holidays. Her schooling was in Greece and she commenced a four-year degree course in Edinburgh in 2012. The accident happened as she was returning to her parents’ home on a short visit.  She issued an application for an interim payment in Greece seeking funding to enable her to be transferred to Stoke Mandeville hospital for at least 6 months for treatment, which was refused.  She made private arrangement to be transferred and, some 6 months after her arrival in the UK (all of which time was spent as an inpatient), she issued proceedings in England.  Unaware of this, the Greek insurer issued proceedings in Greece two days later.  Unusually, after proceedings were served, C made an application for a positive declaration that the English court had jurisdiction, coupled with an application to injunct the Defendants from proceeding in Greece.  The application was heard at very short notice at the same time as the insurer’s challenge to the jurisdiction under CPR Part 11 on the basis that C was not domiciled in England and Wales at the date of issue.

Judgment

Singh J found for the insurer on all points.  C was not domiciled in England and Wales at the date of issue.  The requirement that ‘residence’ should involve some degree of continuity and permanence was not satisfied by C’s prolonged period as an inpatient (C having resiled during the hearing from her original case that she was resident at her grandmother’s home).  Nor did she have a substantial connection to England.  The best evidence as at the date of issue was the evidence presented to the Greek court in 2014, in which she had declared that her home was in Greece at her parents’ address and her stay in England was for the purposes of treatment.  Her connections to England consisted of her maternal grandmother living here, and her using that address as one for correspondence during the period she was studying in Scotland. 

View the Judgment in Lawtel.

Katherine Deal acted for the successful insurers.

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