Pescatore v Valentino & ors [2021] WTLR 917

WTLR Issue: Autumn 2021 #184







The claimant, a Mongolian national, was the second wife and widow of the deceased. She applied for an interim anti-suit injunction against two of the three defendants, the deceased’s adult children, restraining them from continuing proceedings against her in Italy pending a trial of a dispute concerning the deceased’s will in England.

The deceased was born in Italy, but was a naturalised British citizen. He had lived in England for 58 years until his death, aged 78, in 2018. His entire working life had been in England. He paid tax in the UK. He had raised a family in England (including two of the three defendants). He made at least three wills in English form. He had died in England. He was buried in England. Although he had some interests in property in Italy and some family connections, visited from time to time and voted there, most of his assets were in England.

The deceased’s first wife died in 2001. He married the claimant in 2008. His final will and testament was made in 2017 and gave pecuniary legacies of £50,000 each to the defendants and left the residue of his estate to the claimant. The matrimonial home passed to the claimant by survivorship.

The English proceedings were issued in April 2021. Probate had been granted in July 2019, just after the defendants filed proceedings in Italy which claimed that the Italian courts had jurisdiction over the succession, Italian law applied to the whole of the estate, the claimant was disqualified from inheriting because of ‘unworthiness’, the compulsory inheritance rights of the defendants had been infringed and the deceased’s patrimony should be restored. Those proceedings were defended but no substantive decision had been made.

The issues before the court were whether: (1) the defendants were personally subject to the English court’s jurisdiction; (2) England was the natural forum of the dispute; (3) an anti-suit injunction would deprive the defendants of a legitimate personal or judicial advantage; and (4) the defendants’ conduct was vexatious, oppressive or unconscionable, and it was in the interests of justice that they be restrained from prosecuting the Italian proceedings.


  1. (1) The first and second defendants were personally subject to the jurisdictions of the English court, being born in England and being British citizens, and being resident there (para 69).
  2. (2) England was the natural forum in relation to the assets of the deceased at his death having regard to the fact that he was a naturalised British citizen who had worked in England all of his life, paid taxes in England, and had died and was buried in England, and most of his assets were in England, the devolution of which would be under English law or the application of English conflict of laws rules (paras 70-71).
  3. (3) The defendants would not be deprived of any personal advantages if they were required to litigate in England. The Italian proceedings did not give any juridical advantages. A judgment in an Italian court applying Italian municipal law could not be enforced under English law in respect of English immovable property. English law would only enforce a judgment in respect of movable property if it had been decided that the deceased was domiciled in Italy at the time of his death in the English conflict of laws sense. The assets to which those matters applied constituted the majority of the deceased’s assets at the time of his death (paras 72-84).
  4. (4) Given that the deceased lived and worked in England most of his life and most of his assets and other economic interests were in England, it was prima facie oppressive conduct by the defendants, who were also British and living in England, to seek redress from the Italian courts to deal with the succession of the deceased’s assets. It was forum-shopping. The deceased and the claimant had opted to live their lives in England and abide by English rules and cultural attitudes, including those relevant to succession. The allegations of ‘unworthiness’ related to matters in England. The relevant witnesses were based in England. The defendants did not choose to live or work in Italy, but chose to live and work in England as part of the English community. There was no answer or evidence as to why they sought to apply Italian law. The Italian proceedings were designed to cause difficulties for their stepmother (paras 89-90, 96).
  5. (5) The overall justice of the case required the first and second defendants to be restrained from prosecuting the Italian proceedings until after trial or further order of the English courts. The natural forum for the dispute was England, and the effect of any Italian judgment in the English proceedings would be limited, such that allowing the Italian proceedings to continue would be vexatious. It would be oppressive. There would be no deprivation of personal or juridical advantage. The Italian proceedings were not advanced, and the question of their own jurisdiction would not be resolved until June 2022 (para 104).
JUDGMENT HHJ PAUL MATTHEWS: Introduction [1] This is my judgment on an application made by notice dated 22 April 2021, on behalf of the Claimant in this action, for an interim anti-suit injunction directed to the First and Second Defendants, who are currently claimants in proceedings in Italy against the present applicant, concerning the inheritance …
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Counsel Details

Marc Glover (Tanfield Chambers, 2-5 Warwick Court, London WC1R 5DJ, tel 020 7421 5300, e-mail, instructed by Portner Law Ltd (6 Cavendish Place, London W1G 9NB, tel 020 7616 5300, e-mail for the applicant.

Daniel Lewis (Wilberforce Chambers, 8 New Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London WC2A 3QP, tel 020 7306 0102, e-mail, instructed by Giambrone & Partners LLP (2nd Floor, 12 Bridewell Place, London EC4V 6AP, tel 020 7183 9482, e-mail for the respondents.

Cases Referenced

  • Al-Bassam v Al-Bassam [2004] EWCA Civ 857; [2004] WTLR 757 CA
  • American Cyanamid Co v Ethicon Ltd [1975] UKHL 1
  • CNA Insurance Co Ltd & ors v Office Depot International (UK) Ltd [2005] EWHC 456 (Comm)
  • Coyne & anor v DRC Distribution Ltd & anor [2008] EWCA Civ 488
  • Highland Crusader Offshore Partners LP & ors v Deutsche Bank AG & anor [2009] EWCA Civ 725; [2010] 1 WLR 1023
  • Lambton v Lambton [2013] EWHC 3566 (Ch)
  • Morris v Davies & ors [2011] EWHC 1272 (Ch); [2011] WTLR 1643 ChD
  • Royal Bank of Canada v Cooperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank BA [2004] EWCA Civ 7; [2004] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 471
  • Smith Kline & French Laboratories v Bloch [1983] 1 WLR 730
  • Société Nationale Industrielle Aérospatiale v Lee Kui Jak [1987] UKPC 12; [1987] AC 871
  • Tadros & anr v Barratt & ors [2014] EWHC 2860 (Ch); [2014] WTLR 1753 ChD
  • The Angelic Grace [1995] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 87, CA
  • Turner v Grovit [2004] EUECJ C-159/02; [2005] 1 AC 101

Legislation Referenced

  • Administration of Estates Act 1925
  • European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020
  • European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018
  • Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933
  • Regulation 650/2012
  • Senior Courts Act 1981