HL Deb 14 August 1857 vol 147 cc1607-8

proceeded to say, he observed that his noble and learned Friend on the cross benches (Lord Wensleydale) had last night called attention to the subject of wills executed by British subjects abroad; and he understood his noble and learned Friend had suggested that such persons should execute two wills, one according to the English law, and the other according to the law of the foreign State in which they were resident. If, however, they were to be governed by the law of domicile, an English subject domiciled in France must not merely execute a will in the form required by the French law, but its substance must agree with the French law. As the French law did not admit of so liberal a disposition of property as the English law, an Englishman resident in France might make two wills—one according to the French, and the other according to the English law—and it might be found that it was impossible to carry into effect the disposition of his property. The subject, he thought, ought to be a portion of the law of nations, and not, as in France for instance, regulated by the municipal law. He expressed a hope that the Government would turn their attention to this subject during the recess, with the view of preparing some proper measure to be submitted to Parliament.


also hoped that there would be some legislation on the subject. He felt some interest in the matter; for, though he had studied the law of domicile for forty years, he hardly knew in what country he was domiciled. If he went to Ireland, where he had some little property, it might be said he was domiciled there; and it was desirable that some real palpable rule should be laid down with respect to the subject.


pointed out that the great difficulty in respect to domicile was one which arose, not in regard to the law, but as to fact; whether the sojourner took up his abode animo revertendi, or sine animo revertendi. It was, he thought, rather a questionable maxim, mobilia sequunter personam. It might have been very applicable when the mobilia consisted of a man's clothes or his watch, but it was altogther extravagant to apply it to £10,000 worth of railway shares, merely because the English law declared that description of property personal property. He admitted that when Sir FitzRoy Kelly first broached the subject to him, the whole of the difficulties did not strike his mind; but since he had considered the question, so many fresh ones arose, that he thought, at present at all events, that any alterations in the law would be productive of more evil than good.