Rossano v Manufacturers' Life Insurance Company

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtQueen's Bench Division
Judgment Date07 Mar 1962
England, High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division.

(McNair J.)

Manufacturers' Life Insurance Co.

Recognition of acts of foreign States and Governments — Foreign revenue laws — Whether recognised or enforceable in another State — Indirect enforcement — Garnishee order by foreign tax authority against assets of policy-holder — Whether order a good defence to claim on policy — The law of England.

The Facts.—In 1940 Charles Rossano, the plaintiff, was an Egyptian national residing in Egypt where, with others, he carried on business in Alexandria as a partner in a limited partnership firm by the name of Levi Rossano & Co. At that time the Italian forces were threatening Egypt, and it was clear that Egypt might become the seat of war. In those circumstances discussion took place between the plaintiff and Mr. Harrari, the district manager of the defendants' Alexandria office, which ultimately resulted in the issue of the three 20-year endowment policies now sued upon.

The defendants were a company incorporated according to the law of Canada and having branches in many countries outside Canada, including a branch in Egypt, through which the policies in question were negotiated. The policies matured on March 15, 1960, and the amount alleged to be due was a sum of £9,906 9s. 10d. The plaintiff brought an action to recover this sum.

The defendants relied upon two main defences. First, that the proper law of the contracts being Egyptian law, or alternatively the situs of the debt being in Egypt, or in the further alternative the contractual place of performance being Egypt, payment by the defendants would be illegal under the Egyptian Exchange Control laws if effected without the permission of the Egyptian Control authorities as it would involve a payment of foreign currency between two persons occupying the status of residents under that law. Secondly, the defendants said that by virtue of two garnishee orders, one dated November 16, 1960, and the second dated January 23, 1962, served upon the defendants' branch in Egypt by the Egyptian revenue authorities in respect of tax alleged to be due by the plaintiff, payment by them of the policy monies to the plaintiff would expose them to penalties under the law of Egypt, or expose them to the risk of having to pay the monies twice, and that they were not liable to pay the sums claimed.

The plaintiff denied that he was under any tax liability, but in any event submitted that for a variety of reasons each of the orders was a nullity. He further submitted that to give effect to the orders would be to enforce, at any rate indirectly, a foreign revenue law, and that for this reason the Court could not recognize them.

Held: that the action must succeed and...

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44 cases
  • Insurco Intl Ltd v Gowan Company
    • Cayman Islands
    • Court of Appeal
    • 10 August 1994
    ...applied. (9) Rawson Trust Co. Ltd. v. G.C.T.C. Ltd., 1980–83 CILR 214, considered. (10) Rossano v. Manufacturers” Life Ins. Co., [1963] 2 Q.B. 352; [1962] 2 All E.R. 214; [1962] 1 Lloyd”s Rep. 187, dictum of McNair J. applied. (11) Saipem S.p.A. v. Dredging VO2 B.V., The Volvox Hollandia, [......
  • Clapham (as attorney of Midland Bank Trust Company Ltd, Executor of the Will of Le Mesurier, née Le Brocq) v Le Mesurier
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    • Royal Court
    • 11 March 1991
    ...v. Midgley, [1893] 3 Ch. 282; (1892), 62 L.J.Ch. 905; 41 W.R. 659; 9 T.L.R. 565; 37 Sol. Jo. 616. (11) Rossano v. Mfrs.' Life Ins. Co., [1963] 2 Q.B. 352; [1962] 2 All E.R. 214; [1962] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 187; (1962), 106 Sol. Jo. 452, applied. (12) Walmsley, Re, 1983 J.J. 35, applied. Additiona......
  • Brokaw v Seatrain U.K. Ltd
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 12 February 1971
    ...recently in Government of India v, Taylor (1955) A. C. 491, to which I would addRossano v, Manufacturers' Life Insurance Co. (1963) 2 Q. B. 352, at pages 376/7 by Mr. Justice McNair. The United States Government submit that that rule only applies to actions in the Courts of law by which a ......
  • Commissioners for HM Revenue and Customs and Another v Ben Nevis Ltd and Others
    • United Kingdom
    • Chancery Division
    • 20 July 2012
    ...of foreign revenue laws—see Re Visser [1928] Ch 877per Tomlin J at 884, Government of India v. Taylor [1955] AC 491; Rossano v. Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. [1963] 2 QB 352 and QRS 1ApS v. Frandson [1999] 1 WLR 2169. It follows that the revenue services of foreign governments are unable......
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