Talaq v Greek public policy: Operation successful, patient dead…

A talaq divorce is rarely knocking at the door of Greek courts. A court in Thessaloniki dismissed an application for the recognition of an Egyptian talaq, invoking the public policy clause, despite the fact that the application was filed by the wife. You can find more information about the case, and check my brief comment here.

What puzzles me though is whether there are more jurisdictions sharing the same view. Personally I don’t feel at ease with this ruling for a number of reasons. But prior to that, a couple of clarifications:

  1. This case bears no resemblance to the Sahyouni saga. The spouses have no double nationality: The husband is an Egyptian, the wife a Greek national.
  2. There was no back and forth in their lives: they got married in Cairo, and lived there until the talaq was notarized. Following that, the spouse moved to Greece, and filed the application at the place of her new residence.
  3. Unlike Egypt, Greece is not a signatory of the 1970 Hague Convention on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations.
  4. There is no bilateral agreement between the two countries in the field.

I’m coming now to the reasons of my disagreement with the judgment’s outcome.

  1. The result is not in line with the prevalent view in a number of European jurisdictions: From the research I was able to conduct, it is my understanding that Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland, do not see any public policy violation, when the wife takes the initiative to apply for recognition of the talaq.
  2. The reasoning of the court is a verbatim reiteration of an Athens Court of Appeal judgement from the ‘90s. It reads as follows: Solely the recognition of such an act would cause profound disturbance to the Greek legal order, if its effects are to be extended and applied in Greece on the basis of the Egyptian applicable rules. What is actually missing is the reason why recognition will lead to profound disturbance, and to whom. Surely not to the spouse, otherwise she wouldn’t file an application to recognize the talaq.
  3. It should be remembered that the public policy clause is not targeting at the foreign legislation applied in the country of origin or the judgment per se; moreover, it focuses on the repercussions caused by the extension of its effects in the country of destination. Given the consent of the spouse, I do not see who is going to feel disturbed.
  4. Recognition would not grant carte blanche for talaq divorces in Greece. As in other jurisdictions, Greece remains devoted to fundamental rights. What makes a difference here is the initiative of the spouse. In other words, the rule remains the same, i.e. no recognition, unless there’s consent by the wife. Consent need not be present at the time the talaq was uttered or notarized; it may be demonstrated at a later stage, either expressly or tacitly. I guess nobody would seriously argue that consent is missing in the case at hand.
  5. Talking about consent, one shouldn’t exclude an ex ante tacit agreement of the spouses for financial reasons. It has been already reported that all remaining options for a spouse in countries where Sharia is predominant are much more complicated, time-consuming, cumbersome, and detrimental to the wife. Take khul for example: It is indeed a solution, but at what cost for the spouse…
  6. Last but not least, what are the actual consequences of refusal for the spouse? She will remain in limbo for a while, until she manages to get a divorce decree in Greece. But it won’t be an easy task to accomplish, and it will come at a heavy price: New claim, translations in Arabic, service in Egypt (which means all the 1965 Hague Service Convention conditions need to be met; Egypt is very strict on the matter: no alternative methods allowed!); and a very careful preparation of the pleadings, so as to avoid a possible stay of proceedings, if the court requires additional information on Egyptian law (a legal information will most probably double the cost of litigation…).

For all the reasons aforementioned, I consider that the judgment is going to the wrong direction, and a shift in Greek case law is imperative, especially in light of the thousands of refugees from Arab countries who are now living in the country.

As I mentioned in the beginning, any information on the treatment of similar cases in your jurisdictions is most welcome.

From the editors’ desk: Relaunch of!

Dear readers, has been around for 12 years by now. It has developed into one of the most relevant platforms for the exchange of information and the discussion of topics relating to conflict of laws in a broad sense. And while the world has changed a lot during the past 12 years the look of has basically remained the same. Today this is going to change: (more…)

Islamic Marriage and English Divorce – a new Decision from the English High Court

In England, almost all married Muslim women have had a nikah, a religious celebration. By contrast, more than half of them have not also gone through a separate civil ceremony, as required under UK law. The often unwelcome consequence is that, under UK law, they are not validly married and therefore insufficiently protected under UK law: they cannot claim maintenance, and they cannot get a divorce as long as the marriage is viewed, in the eyes of the law, as a nullity.

The government has tried for some time to remedy this, under suspicious gazes from conservative Muslims on the one hand, secularists on the other. A 2014 report (the ‘Aurat report’), which  demonstrated, by example of 50 cases, the hardships that could follow from the fact that nikahs are not recognized, found attention in the government party. An independent review into the application of sharia law in England and law, instigated by Theresa May (then the Home Secretary) in 2016 and published earlier this year, recommended to ensure that all Islamic marriages would also be registered; it also recommended campaigns for increased awareness.

Such steps do not help where the wedding already took place and has not been registered. A new decision by the High Court brings partial relief. Nasreen Akhter (who is a solicitor and thus certainly not an uneducated woman ignorant of the law) asked to be divorced from her husband of twenty years, Mohammed Shabaz Khan. Khan’s defense was that the marriage, which had been celebrated as a nikah in west London, existed only under Islamic, not under UK law, and therefore divorce under UK law was not possible. Indeed, up until now, the nikah had been considered a non-marriage which the law could ignore, because it did not even purport to comply with the requirements of English law. The High Court was unwilling to presume the lived marriage as valid. However, drawing at length on Human Rights Law, it declared the marriage void under sec 11 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and granted the wife a decree of nullity. This has important consequences: Unlike a non-marriage, a void marriage allows a petitioner to obtain financial remedies.

The decision represents a huge step towards the protection of women whose Islamic marriages are not registered. It makes it harder for men to escape their obligations under civil law. At the same time, the decision is not unproblematic: it refuses recognition of an Islamic marriage as such, while at the same time, under certain conditions, treating it like a recognized marriage. In all likelihood, only registration will create the needed certainty.

The decision is here.


EAPIL Young Research Network Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on 14 and 15 May 2022

The EAPIL Young Research Network is looking forward to welcoming the academic and research community to the beautiful city of Dubrovnik on 14 and 15 May 2022 for a closing conference on the EAPIL Young Research Network’s third research project with the title: Jurisdiction Over Non-EU Defendants – Should the Brussels Ia Regulation be Extended?

The research project aimed at facilitating a critical discussion of the possibility envisaged in Art. 79 Brussels Ibis Regulation of extending the personal scope of the jurisdictional rules contained in the Regulation.

The conference will include a presentation of the research project and its core results as well as discussions with the representatives of the European Commission, the Hague Conference on Private International Law and leading scholars. The Conference will be held at the Inter-University Centre located at the address Don Frana Buli?a 4, in close vicinity of the Dubrovnik historical centre.

There is no fee for attending the conference and we are providing limited assistance in booking the most appropriate accommodation (as explained in the application form).

Please direct all inquiries regarding the conference to

U.S. becomes sixth signatory to the HCCH 2019 Judgments Convention

Today, 2 March 2022, the United States of America (USA) signed the HCCH 2019 Judgments Convention. This made the world’s largest economy the sixth signatory state to the new legal instrument, following Uruguay, Costa Rica, Israel and, intricately, Ukraine and the Russian Federation. However, read in conjunction with the recent proposal of the European Commission, the U.S. signature demonstrates the strong interest in a global legal framework for judicial cooperation in the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments.

NGPIL Competition Winner

Originally posted on the NGPIL website

The NGPIL previously announced a Prize of 300 British Pounds Sterling for the best paper on Nigerian conflict of laws for an undergraduate and/or postgraduate scholar studying in Nigeria, or any Nigerian lawyer five years call or below practicing and residing in Nigeria.

A call for paper commenced in September 2021 with submissions received from participants across various States in Nigeria, entries from undergraduates and postgraduates in law, and early years post-call practitioners.

Following the submission deadline on 10 January 2022, the NGPIL made an assessment that Mr Solomon Adegboyo, an LLM student at the University of Ibadan, emerged winner of the competition.  Mr Adegboyo’s winning entry is titled “Tort in the Conflict of Laws: A Comparative Analysis”. Mr Olawale Adeosun, an LLM student at the University of Lagos, emerged the first runner up. Miss Hope Olajumoke a Nigerian law graduate (1 year post call to the Bar, Ekiti State University) emerged the 2nd runner up.

The response to the call was very encouraging and it is hoped this will be the springboard to encouraging, nurturing, and strengthening the foundations of private international law in Nigeria from earlier stages of academia and practice. This initiative will also assist with targeting areas of improvement such as addressing the lack of materials and resources on conflict of laws in Nigeria.

Huge congratulations to the winner and thank you to our runners-up and other participants!