Interpretation Of Wills ' Where An English Will Covers Jersey Assets

Published date14 January 2022
Subject MatterLitigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Family and Matrimonial, Trials & Appeals & Compensation, Wills/ Intestacy/ Estate Planning
Law FirmWalkers
AuthorMr Robert Dobbyn, Sevyn Kalsi and James Turnbull

In an interesting recent English Court of Appeal decision, Partington v Rossiter [2021] EWCA Civ 1564, the Court determined that where an English will was expressed as only having "effect in relation to my UK assets" it was possible for such reference to the UK to include Jersey. You might ask why this is an interesting decision from a Jersey law point of view? Well, the principal reason is that Jersey is a not a part of the UK from a constitutional perspective nor has it ever been. Jersey is a separate jurisdiction with its own legislature, courts and legal system with no representation in the United Kingdom's parliament.

It might therefore seem rather surprising that the English Court of Appeal should reach the conclusion that it did. The judgment also highlights the importance of wills properly identifying their intended jurisdictional scope. The reasons for the decision certainly merit closer consideration.


As well as holding assets outside of Russia (where Mr Rossiter was domiciled at his date of death), Mr Rossiter also held assets in both Jersey and the UK. Although in a will prepared in 2013 (the "Will") he had stated "I confirm that this will only has effect in relation to my UK assets", following his death a dispute arose between his wife and his children, which came before the English Courts, as to whether or not the Will covered his Jersey assets. If it did not, the effect would be that there would be a partial intestacy and the Jersey assets would, it was understood, pass to his wife as opposed to passing to his children in accordance with the terms of the Will.

The English Court of Appeal therefore had to consider two questions:

  1. Was the devolution of Mr Rossiter's Jersey assets covered by the Will?
  2. If not, should the Will be rectified so that they were?

When the Will was being prepared, Mr Rossiter's English solicitors had advised that he should make a separate will to deal with any assets he owned outside of the UK. Although Mr Rossiter had confirmed that he understood this, and that separate wills were being prepared, it was noted by the English Court of Appeal that no will specifically dealing with Mr Rossiter's Jersey assets had ever been found.

The English Court of Appeal's Decision

The Court of Appeal first considered both the constitutional position of Jersey and the dictionary definition of the UK, in determining whether Jersey was part of the UK. Under both headings, the Court of Appeal found that Jersey was not. The...

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