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French Court ruling on the EU Succession Regulation referred to the European Court of Justice
The EU Succession Regulation came into force in 2015 with the aim to simplify cross-border successions in Europe. However, one can argue that, in certain cases, cross-border successions have become a more complicated affair. Whilst the UK is not a party to the Succession Regulation, it not only has an impact on UK nationals with assets in a Regulation Member estate but also on EU nationals habitually resident in a non-Regulation ‘third’ state, such as the UK.
Although the Regulation is relatively recent, the amount of case law is increasing. Most recently, the French Cour de Cassation, which acts as a Supreme Court of Appeal, has referred a matter to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on jurisdiction issues.
Crucially, the Succession Regulation itself does not specify whether subsidiary jurisdiction is optional or mandatory in such circumstances. This has led the French Cour de Cassation to refer this matter to the European Court of Justice to determine the interpretation of the dispositions contained in Article 10.1a of the Succession Regulation, when a deceased person has a habitual residence in a third state (in this case the United Kingdom) but is a national of a Regulation Member State (France). Essentially, the question before the ECJ is whether the Courts of that Member State automatically determine that they have subsidiary competence to deal with the administration of the estate?
The outcome of the European Court of Justice decision will be key for the succession of French nationals who are habitually resident in a third state, such as the United Kingdom.