9 Which is the competent authority to turn to in cases of disputes and other legal issues?


Beyond the applicable European instruments, the common law grounds for jurisdiction are rather wide; essentially jurisdiction can be established if one of the spouses is domiciled in England and Wales. However, the doctrine of forum non conveniens allows a court to stay proceedings/refuse jurisdiction if it thinks that a court in another jurisdiction is better placed to deal with the matter at hand. See also 1.1. and 1.2. above.


The ordinary civil courts (i.e. the Court of Session for the whole of Scotland and the local sheriff courts) have jurisdiction in matters relating to matrimonial property and the division of assets on divorce. The Scottish courts have jurisdiction to make an order relating to financial provision on divorce if they have jurisdiction in the divorce action (see section 10 of the Domicile and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1973). The rules on jurisdiction in divorce are those laid down in Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003.

For the local sheriff court to have jurisdiction in divorce the Scottish courts must have jurisdiction under the Council Regulation and in addition either party to the marriage must<

  • (i) have been resident in the sheriffdom for a period of forty days ending with the date when the action was begun, or
  • (ii) have been resident in the sheriffdom for a period of not less than forty days ending not more than forty days before that date, and have no known residence in Scotland at that date.