Crociani v Crociani: ‘exclusive jurisdiction’ and ‘forum for administration’ redefined

On 7 April 2014, the Jersey Court of Appeal delivered its judgment in the case of Crociani v Crociani. In a landmark ruling that will have far-reaching implications for contentious and non-contentious trust lawyers in both the onshore and offshore worlds, the Court of Appeal has clarified what is meant by ‘exclusive jurisdiction’ and ‘forum for administration’ in trust deeds and in doing so overruled its previous decision in the 2002 case of Koonmen v Bender [2002] JCA 218.

The Grand Trust was a trust established in 1987 under the laws of the Bahamas. Between 1987 and 2012, there had been a number of changes to the professional trustee and, in consequence, to the proper law of the trust. For the substantive purposes of the issue before the Court of Appeal, on 10 February 2012 the Jersey-based trustee, BNP Jersey, was purportedly replaced by a Mauritian trustee and the proper law of the trust purportedly changed to that of Mauritius.

In January 2013, claims for breach of trust were brought in Jersey to recover funds and assets believed to be worth more than $100m (£60m). The transactions that the appellants sought to challenge took place between 2007 and 2011, during which time the trust was governed by Jersey law and administered by BNP Jersey…

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