Developments in PIL Journals Scholarship

The Application of the Succession Regulation in the Member States of the EU

The University of Silesia in Katowice hosted in 2019 a conference on the the Application of the Succession Regulation in the EU Member States.

The papers presented at the conference have recently been published, under the editorship of Maciej Szpunar, in Problemy Prawa Prywatnego Międzynarodowego, a periodical specifically devoted to private international law.Below are the abstracts of (and the links to) the various contributions.

After the conference GEDIP held its meeting in Katowice and celebrated honorary doctorate awarded to Professor Paul Lagarde. The report from the conference is available here and from GEDIP’s meeting here.

Maciej Szpunar, Foreword

The current volume of “Problemy Prawa Prywatnego Międzynarodowego” — the leading Polish periodical in the field of private international law — is primarily devoted to the Regulation No 650/2012 of 4 July 2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession (“the Succession Regulation”).

Paul Lagarde, La réserve héréditaire dans le règlement 650/2012 sur les successions

The article addresses the issues relating to the protection of forced heirs in international context with a particular focus on the provisions of the EU Succession Regulation pertaining thereto. It contrasts common law tradition with the solutions adopted in French law, whereby certain relatives are entitled to the hereditary reserve (la réserve héréditaire). The author discusses selected examples taken from a body of French case-law dealing with the issue in question. Amongst the cases touched upon by the author are those concerning the successions of Johnny Hallyday and Maurice Jarre, which were two cases widely discussed in the recent French jurisprudence.

Jürgen Basedow, “Member States” and “Third States” in the Succession Regulation

The author advocates a flexible approach with respect to the interpretation of the term “Member State” as employed in the Succession Regulation, allowing the differentiation between “participating” and “non-participating” States. It does not mean that the term “Member State” should always be interpreted in a wide sense including the three non-participating States: Denmark, the Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Whether a wide or a narrow interpretation is appropriate depends on the context and the purpose of the single provision. Most provisions contained in the chapter on jurisdiction refer to participating Member States only. But some articles such as the Article 13 of the Regulation, provide a counter-example. A uniform interpretation of the concept of Member State in all provisions of the Succession Regulation seems far too sweeping. It reminds of Begriffsjurisprudenz and does not take account of the purpose of the single provisions. In particular, it disregards the need for the cross-border protection of individual rights in a Union with open frontiers.

Christian Kohler, Application of the Succession Regulation by German courts — Selected Issues

The article concerns the notion of “court” in the Succession Regulation. This notion is used in the Brussels I and Brussels Ia Regulations, where it does not necessarily have the same scope. The author attempts to interpret the concept in the light of the recitals to the Succession Regulation (in particular Recital 20) and of the case law of the Court of Justice. The very general description of the concept contained in Article 3(2) of the Regulation might potentially embrace other authorities and legal professionals, where they exercise judicial functions by way of delegation of power from the court. In the author’s view, the European Court, especially in Oberle and WB v Notariusz Przemysława Bac correctly navigated its way through the Succession Regulation and ruled in a way which is both coherent as regards the operation of the Regulation and consistent with the intentions of the legislator. The above judgments are analysed also with regard to Poland’s omission to notify notaries as “courts” under Article 79 of the Succession Regulation. The European Court found that the criteria for determining whether an authority or a legal professional, in particular a notary public, constitutes a “court” are determined by Article 3(2) and not by Article 79. Consequently, Poland’s omission to notify was not conclusive, but was in any event correct in substance. The author expresses the opinion that the judgment is accurate on this point.

Michael Wilderspin, The Notion of “Court” under the Succession Regulation

The article concerns the notion of “court” in the Succession Regulation. This notion is used in the Brussels I and Brussels Ia Regulations, where it does not necessarily have the same scope. The author attempts to interpret the concept in the light of the recitals to the Succession Regulation (in particular Recital 20) and of the case law of the Court of Justice. The very general description of the concept contained in Article 3(2) of the Regulation might potentially embrace other authorities and legal professionals, where they exercise judicial functions by way of delegation of power from the court. In the author’s view, the European Court, especially in Oberle and WB v Notariusz Przemysława Bac correctly navigated its way through the Succession Regulation and ruled in a way which is both coherent as regards the operation of the Regulation and consistent with the intentions of the legislator. The above judgments are analysed also with regard to Poland’s omission to notify notaries as “courts” under Article 79 of the Succession Regulation. The European Court found that the criteria for determining whether an authority or a legal professional, in particular a notary public, constitutes a “court” are determined by Article 3(2) and not by Article 79. Consequently, Poland’s omission to notify was not conclusive, but was in any event correct in substance. The author expresses the opinion that the judgment is accurate on this point.

Stefania Bariatti, The Capacity and the Quality of Heir. Possible Interaction with Preliminary Questions

The article contains an overview of the rules relating to the scope of application of the EU private international law regulations. It addresses the treatment of the relevant preliminary questions, with special reference to the Succession Regulation. The issues are discussed in three steps. The first is connected with the way of interpreting the notions and concepts, such as marriage, adoption, legal capacity etc., where such matters as personal status, legal capacity or family relationship may come to the foreground as a preliminary question. The second is dealing with the law applicable to the preliminary question. The author compares pros and cons of the “independent reference” (lex fori) and the “dependent reference” (lex causae) solutions, considering the latter as less effective, producing more negative consequences. The third step embraces questions relating to the jurisdiction with respect to preliminary question.

Andrea Bonomi, The Regulation on Matrimonial Property and Its Operation in Succession Cases — Its Interaction with the Succession Regulation and Its Impact on Non-participating Member States

The Regulations on Matrimonial Property (No 2016/1103) and on the Property Consequences of Registered Partnerships (No 2016/1104) are new important pieces in the “puzzle” of European private international law. This article particularly focuses on the relationship between the Matrimonial Property Regulations and the Succession Regulation, two instruments which will often be applied in parallel because of the close connection between the two areas they govern. The author examines in particular the scope of those instruments as well as their interaction with respect to jurisdiction and applicable law. At the same time, an attempt is also made to assess the position of Poland and of those other Member States that are bound by the Succession Regulation, but not by the Matrimonial Property Regulation.

Piotr Rylski, The Influence of Bilateral Treaties with Third States on Jurisdiction and Recognition of Decisions in Matters on Succession — Polish Perspective

The aim of the study is to discuss the impact of bilateral international treaties concluded by EU Member States with third countries on jurisdiction and recognition of judgments in matters of succession from Polish perspective. The author discusses the main problems in the interpretation of Article 75 of Regulation 650/2012 and the possible conflict of this solution with the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. The article indicates also practical problems related to the collision of bilateral treaties and Regulation No 650/2012 regarding, for example, the possibility of concluding choice-of-court agreements, recognition of foreign judgments in matters of succession and the possibility of issuing the European Certificates of Succession.

Krzysztof Pacuła, The Principle of a Single Estate and Its Role in Delimiting the Applicable Laws

This paper argues that the principle of unity of succession is one of the key concepts of the Succession Regulation. By operation of this principle on the jurisdictional level, the Regulation tends to favor a perspective of a single Member State when it comes to all issues related to succession. The principle of unity of succession does not of course eliminate the need to proceed to the characterization and to delimitate the scopes of conflict of laws rules at stake. However, this principle — aiming to promote a unitary vision of a single estate in all the Member States bound by the Regulation — sets a tone for some interpretative techniques that tend to favor succession-related characterization of the issues having some importance in the context of succession with cross-border implications. According to the Author, effet utile-driven characterization, on the one hand, and succession-friendly characterization of the issues falling within ‘gray areas’ created by the operation of Article 1(2) of the Succession Regulation, on the other hand, are among them.

Maksymilian Pazdan, Maciej Zachariasiewicz, Highlights and Pitfalls of the EU Succession Regulation

The EU Succession Regulation constitutes a remarkable achievement of unification of conflict of law rules at the European level. It has importantly changed the landscape for all those interested in succession law, in particular, the notaries and the estate planning practitioners. The present article takes up a number of selected issues that arise under the Regulation. The paper first identifies certain general difficulties that result either from the complex nature of the matters addressed or from a somewhat ambiguous wording of the rules adopted by the EU legislator. The attention is devoted to the exceptions to the principle of the unity of legis successionis, the dispositions upon death, and the intertemporal questions resulting from the change of the conflict of laws rules in the Member States which occurred on 17th August 2015 when the Regulation started to be applied. The paper then moves to some of the more specific issues arising under the Regulation. To that effect, it first looks at the Polish Act of 2018 governing the ”succession administration” of the enterprise, which forms part of the estate. The argument is made that the rules contained in the 2018 Act should be applied by virtue of Article 30 of the Succession Regulation because they constitute “special rules” in the meaning of this provision. Second, the notion of a “court” under Article 3(2) of the Regulation is discussed in light of the recent judgment of the CJEU in case C-658/17 WB, where the European Court found that a Polish notary issuing the deed of certification of succession is not a “court” for purposes of Article 3(2). The paper provides a critical account of the Court’s decision.

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