Legal Subject: Conflict of Laws

Case Date Legal Subject Abstract
Jean Colville v. William Lauder 15 Jan 1800 Conflict of Laws Shortly after marrying Pursuer Jean Colville, David Lauder left Scotland under indenture to work on the island of St. Vincent. He subsequently traveled to New York and then to Canada, where he drowned while bathing in the Saint Lawrence River. Before his death, David sent a bill for £200 to his father, Defender William Lauder, with instructions to secure the money in case of David’s return to Scotland. David wrote that if he was not heard from again, “the money is either at [William’s] or my dear mother’s disposal.” William Lauder kept the money after David’s death, and Jean Colville brought suit to secure a share of it. The legal dispute turned on a choice of law issue: whether the Pursuer’s claim was governed by the law of Scotland or the law of England, which regulated British territories. Under Scots law, Jean Colville would be entitled to half of David Lauder’s moveable estate as her jus relictae—a widow’s right in the movable estate of her deceased spouse. Under English law, a valid will could exclude the widow from any share of the movable estate. The parties agreed that succession was governed by the law of the decedent’s domicile but disputed where David Lauder was domiciled at the time of his death. The pursuer argued that David was domiciled in Scotland, where he intended to return, while the defender argued that David had established a domicile abroad.
John Boog and Attorney v. The Common Agent in the Ranking of Margaret Watt's Creditors 11 Dec 1800 Conflict of Laws A Scotsman named Daniel Morgan went to London and purchased goods on credit from John Boog, a merchant. Morgan then departed for India as steward on an East India ship, leaving his wife Margaret Watt in Dundee. Morgan died during the outward passage, and Boog eventually sought payment from Watt. Watt argued in court that Boog’s claim was barred by the “triennial prescription,” a statute of limitations, but Boog secured a “decree in absence” after Watt exhausted her ability to pay for a legal defense. Other creditors of Watt initiated a ranking and sale of her heritable property. In that proceeding, the common agent renewed the defense of prescription against Boog’s claim. Boog answered that English law—which had no triennial prescription—should apply because Morgan never returned to Scotland.