Back in April we reported about the Opinion delivered by AG Campos Sánchez-Bordona in the case Vorarlberger Landes- und Hypotheken-Bank, C-301/20, which revolves around the effects produced by an European Certificate of Succession and its certified copy, time-wise (first and third questions) as well as ratione personae, by reason of the person concerned (second question). At the request of the Court, the Opinion covered only the third preliminary question. In today’s judgment, the Court addresses all three questions.
In brief, the case concerned a certified copy of an European Certificate of Succession, which bore a marking ‘unlimited’ in the ‘Valid until’ field (element linked to the first and third questions). Moreover, the certified copy in question was issued on the application of only one of the two heirs concerned by the main proceedings emanating from Austria (element linked to the second question).
First and third questions, effects time-wise
The Court considered that the first and third question should be examined jointly; for the Court, by these two questions the referring court sought to establish whether a certified copy of an European Certificate of Succession which bears a marking ‘unlimited’ is valid and produces its effects (described in Article 69 of the Succession Regulation) with no further limitation, as long as this copy was valid when it was first submitted to the concerned authority (paragraph 20).
According to the Court’s answer, such certified copy is valid for six month following its issuance and continues to produce its effects, in the sense of Article 69 of the Regulation, if it was valid when it was first submitted to the competent authority (paragraph 37).
Second question, effects by reason of the person concerned
By its second question, the referring court sought to establish whether an European Certificate of Succession produces its effects only in favour of the person who has applied for it (under this hypothesis, only that person could use the certificate and rely on its effects) or it produces such effects in favour of all persons who are mentioned in its content by name as heirs, legatees, executors of wills or administrators of the estate, regardless whether they applied for it.
The Court clearly approved the second hypothesis; the European Certificate of Succession produces its effects in favour of all persons mentioned in it, whether they have applied for the issue of certificate or not (paragraph 45).
The judgment can be consulted here (in French).