Galbraith v Grimshaw and Baxter: HL 2 Jan 1910

Where a Scottish sequestration occurred shortly after an English garnishee order nisi, the judgment creditor prevailed over the trustee in bankruptcy, although the result would have been different if both the attachment and the bankruptcy had occurred in the same jurisdiction (whether England or Scotland). The attachment in England had not been completed, but the fact that it had started meant that the garnished debt was no longer ‘free assets’ of the bankrupt.
Lord Macnaghten said: ‘It may have been intended by the Legislature that bankruptcy in one part of the United Kingdom should produce the same consequences throughout the whole kingdom. But the Legislature has not said so. The Act does not say that a Scotch sequestration shall have effect in England as if it were an English bankruptcy of the same date. It only says that the Courts of the different parts of the United Kingdom shall severally act in aid of and be auxiliary to each other in all matters of bankruptcy. The English Court, no doubt, is bound to carry out the orders of the Scottish Court, but in the absence of special enactment the Scottish Court can only claim the free assets of the bankrupt. It has no right to interfere with any process of an English Court pending at the time of the Scotch sequestration.’
Lord Dunedin said that there should be only one universal process of the distribution of a bankrupt’s property and that, where such a process was pending elsewhere, the English courts should not allow steps to be taken in its jurisdiction which would interfere with that process: ‘Now so far as the general principle is concerned it is quite consistent with the comity of nations that it should be a rule of international law that if the court finds that there is already pending a process of universal distribution of a bankrupt’s effects it should not allow steps to be taken in its territory which would interfere with that process of universal distribution.’


Lord Macnaghten, Lord Dunedin


[1910] AC 508


Bankruptcy Act 1883 117


England and Wales


Appeal FromGalbraith v Grimshaw and Baxter CA 1910
A garnishee order nisi does not operate as a transfer of the property in the debt, but it is an equitable charge on it, and the garnishee cannot pay the debt to any one but the garnishor without incurring the risk of having to pay it over again to . .

Cited by:

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Held: In earlier . .
CitedRubin and Another v Eurofinance Sa and Others SC 24-Oct-2012
The Court was asked ‘whether, and if so, in what circumstances, an order or judgment of a foreign court . . in proceedings to adjust or set aside prior transactions, eg preferences or transactions at an undervalue, will be recognised and enforced in . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 09 May 2022; Ref: scu.222844