This is the end of a 5 month drama: the registrar of the Court of Appeal of Metz is now granting apostille on PACS again.
The Pacte Civil de Solidarité (PACS) is the French civil partnership allowing couples, whether same sex or not, to conclude a civil union. It attracts a variety of benefits.
Metz is the capitale of Lorraine, and Lorraine benefits from the economy of Luxembourg. 75,000 French citizens commute everyday to Luxembourg, essentially from Lorraine. Some of them have concluded a PACS and are entitled to significant benefits under Luxembourg law if their PACS is recognized in the Grand Duchy. It seems that 150 couples seek recognition of a French PACS in Luxembourg each year.
Luxembourg has always insisted, however, that it would only recognize French PACS if authentified by an apostille (for German or Belgian civil unions, authentification from the town council of origin is required instead). As a consequence, French potential beneficiaries would go to the Registrar of the Court of Appeal of Metz to receive the precious apostille.
Apostille or not apostille?
But was it right for Luxembourg to require an apostille for recognition purposes?
In France, some argued that the 17th Convention of the International Commission on Civil Status on the Exemption from Legalisation of Certain Records and Documents concluded in Athens in 1977 (convention CIEC n° 17), which is applicable both in France and in Luxembourg, suppressed any need for such authentification.
On July 1st, the Registrar of the Court of Appeal of Metz decided that it would not issue apostille with respect to PACS anymore.
In the five following months, 70 applications for recognition of French PACS were dismissed in Luxembourg for lack of apostille. A number of Luxembourg papers reported on the situation of the French PACS beneficiaries who were denied a variety of benefits.
A member of the Luxembourg parliament brought the issue to the attention of the Luxembourg Minister of Justice in an official question asked in Parliament. The Minister replied that the debate had wrongly focused on the 1977 Convention, while, he explained, the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents clearly applied to PACS and had only suppressed the requirement for legalisation, not for apostille.
Fortunately for PACS beneficiaries, the Metz Registrar resumed issuing apostille a few days ago. An official website of the Luxembourg government reports that the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent an inquiry to French authorities, and that after communications between the Metz Registrar and the Luxembourg competent administrative authority, the Metz Registrar resumed its former practice.