Tag Archive for: international family law

No reciprocity for Swiss and German judgments in Jordan

Two recent rulings of the Supreme Court of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan refused recognition and enforcement of  German and Swiss judgments on maintenance on grounds of no reciprocity.

I. First case: No reciprocity with Germany

  1. The facts

The applicant was the wife of the respondent, both Jordanian nationals. She filed several applications before German courts in Stuttgart, and obtained a number of final judgments ordering payments for alimony to her benefit. Due to non payment by the husband, she filed an application for the recognition and enforcement of the German judgments in Jordan.  The Court of first instance declared the judgments enforceable in Jordan in 2009. The husband appealed. The Amman Court of Appeal issued its decision January 2015, revoking the appealed decision. The wife filed a second appeal (cassation).

  1. The ruling of the Supreme Court of Cassation

Initially, the Supreme Court underlined the lack of a judicial cooperation agreement between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Germany, which leads to the application of the Jordan law on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. The Supreme Court stressed out that for the purposes of a foreign judgment being executed in Jordan, the conditions stipulated in the Law on Execution of Foreign Judgments No. (8) of 1952 must be met. It then referred to the provisions of Article (7/2) of the law, which states that the court may reject the application requesting the execution of a judgment issued by a court of any country whose law does not allow the recognition of judgments issued by the courts of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The Supreme Court refers then to the order of the Amman Court of Appeal to the applicant, by virtue of which the latter was invited to provide evidence whether German laws allow the recognition of judgments issued by Jordanian courts. Based on the letter received by the Ministry of Justice in December 2014, the Court of Appeal concluded that there is no reciprocity between Jordan and Germany to recognize judgments issued by their courts.

On the grounds aforementioned, the Supreme Court dismissed the cassation and confirmed the ruling of the Amman Court of Appeal [Jordan Court of Cassation, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Ruling issued at 9/2 /2020].

II. Second case – No reciprocity with Switzerland

  1. The facts

The parties were a Romanian wife (applicant in Jordan and claimant in Switzerland) and a Jordanian husband (defendant in Switzerland and appellant in Jordan). The applicant obtained a set of decisions against the respondent, including the right of guardianship over the child resulting from their marriage, and maintenance. In 2019, the wife filed an application for the recognition and enforcement of a number of judgments issued by Zurich courts. Both the North Amman Court of First Instance and the Amman Court of Appeal allowed the recognition of the Swiss judgments. The husband lodged a second appeal in March 2020, invoking a number of grounds for cassation. The focus is on the 9th and 10th ground, namely the following:

a.       The instance courts erred and violated the text of Article 7/2 of the Foreign Judgment Execution Law by not responding to his request, that Swiss courts do not recognize judgments issued by Jordanian courts.

b.      The Court of Appeal was mistaken by not allowing evidence to be presented, demonstrating that Swiss courts do not accept rulings issued by Jordanian courts

  1. The ruling of the Supreme Court of Cassation

In response to the above, the Supreme Court stated that for the purposes of the foreign judgment being executed within the Kingdom, it is imperative that the recognition meets the conditions stipulated in the Law on Execution of Foreign Judgments No. (8) of 1952. By referring to the provisions of Article (7/2) of the same law, the Supreme Court reproduced the wording of the provision, namely, that the court may also reject the application requesting the execution of a judgment issued by one of the courts of any country whose law does not permit the recognition of judgments issued by the courts of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. What is learned from this text, the Supreme Court continues, is that reciprocity must be available, and the ruling does not violate public order.

The Supreme Court granted the appeal with the following reasoning:

  • the Court of Appeal omitted to examine whether there was reciprocity between Jordan and Switzerland to mutually recognize judgments issued by their courts;
  • it also failed to address the Ministry of Justice to clarify whether there was reciprocity, and that the judgments issued by the Jordanian courts are recognized by the courts of Switzerland, and then to evaluate the respective evidence.

Based on the above, the Supreme Court decided to refuse recognition of the Swiss judgments [Jordan Court of Cassation, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Ruling issued at 21/9/2020].

Webinar on COVID-19 and international child abduction

A free webinar to hear experts of MK Family Law (Washington) and Grotius Chambers (The Hague) discuss pertinent issues relating to international child abduction in times of COVID-19. 

Date: 8 April 2020
Time: 3 pm (CET Amsterdam)

COVID-19 has a significant impact on all aspects of our lives. Since the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic, numerous States have implemented travel bans in an attempt to contain its spread. Moreover, States have closed courts and adjourned or even cancelled hearings.

Such restrictions cause direct impacts on transnational families. They may hinder, in particular, the prompt return of children in cases of international child abduction. Parents may encounter difficulties in commencing proceedings before the competent authorities, as well as complying with an agreement or return order.

Melissa Kucinski of MK Family Law and Janaina Albuquerque Azevedo Gomes, Expert in international Child Abduction law, will consider what the current situation may mean for parents. A particular focus will be the prompt return of children under the 1980 HCCH Child Abduction Convention.

Registrations are now open and the Eventbrite Registration Form can be found here.

Registration is required to receive the webinar login credentials. For further information, please contact info@grotiuschambers.com. 

Change in German International Adoption Law

Last week the German parliament approved a reform of the German adoption law. The reform was triggered by a decision of the Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht – BVerfG) declaring provisions unconstitutional that did not allow a stepchild adoption for non-marital couples (English translation of the decision here).

The legislator took the opportunity to adapt the conflict of law provisions. The relevant rule, article 22 Introductory Act to the Civil Code (EGBGB) only applies to adoptions in Germany and those abroad that were not established by a foreign court or authority. In the latter case the rules on recognition of court decisions apply. Furthermore, the Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption prevails. The new rule, thus, mainly determines the law applicable on the acceptance of an adoption by private agreement that occurred abroad.

The former relevant provision, Article 22 para 1 EGBGB stated, cited after the translation made by Juliana Mörsdorf for the Federal Office of Justice:

Article 22 Adoption

(1) The adoption of a child is governed by the law of the country of which the adopter is a national at the time of the adoption. The adoption by one or both spouses is governed by the law which applies to the general effects of the marriage under article 14 subarticle 1. The adoption by a life partner is governed by the law which applies to the general effects of the life partnership under article 17b subarticle 1 sentence 1.


The new Article 22 para. 1 states that

“the adoption of a child in Germany is governed by German law. In all other cases the adoption is governed by the law of the country in which the adoptee has his habitual residence at the time of the adoption.“ [my translation – German federal law in general is not very aware of the use of a gender neutral wording. Of course, also female and non-binary adoptees and their habitual residences are included.]

Due to the Constitutional Court’s ruling, all references to an adoption by somebody living in a marriage or registered civil partnership were eliminated. Furthermore, the rule is a good example for some general general shifts in the German International Family law system regarding connecting factors:

  • First, in the name of procedural efficiency (according to the travaux préparatoires, BT-Drs. 19/15618, p. 8, 16), there is the tendency to distinguish between legal situations occurring in Germany or abroad and use conflict of laws more often to accept legal situations established abroad. Adoptions in Germany are always governed by German law and always require a court proceeding (sec 1752 German Civil Code for minors and sec 1767 para. 2 for adults). With the new provision, the legislative confirmed that an adoption that occurred abroad will be accepted in German according to the so-called method of “recognition by conflict of laws”, as article 22 para 1 phrase 2 exclusively provides a rule for adoptions that took place outside of Germany.
  • Second, by determining the law applicable, the German rule no longer focuses on the adopter(s) but the adoptee. This change is in accordance with the general awareness to put the child’s best interest in the centre of attention in cases involving fundamental changes to a child. While, of course, there can be adoptions of adults, the adoption of a minor is the most common (see also the travaux préparatoires, BT-Drs. 19/15618, p. 16).
  • Third, the rule also includes a temporal connecting factor. Traditionally, German conflict of laws rules do not state the temporal connection factor, thus, the rules always refer to the moment of the closure of the court hearing. This can create uncertainty as it allows a change of connecting factors over time and even in the course of a proceeding.
  • Last but not least, and maybe even more interesting, the main connecting factor changed from nationality to habitual residence. Traditionally in German International Family Law, nationality was the central connecting factor, as it is still in article 13 (law governing the conclusion of a marriage). In article 22, instead, connecting factor is the habitual residence (of the adoptee). This shows a general tendency in German conflict of laws which was mainly triggered by the harmonization of conflict of laws in the EU. Last year the central rule regarding international marriage law (article 14, losing the importance to the latest EU regulations, though) changed the “rungs” of its famous “Kegel’s ladder”: Traditionally, the first “rung” of said ladder was the spouses shared nationality or last shared nationality during marriage. Only in case there was neither, applicable was the law of the spouses’ habitual residence. Since January 2019, main connecting factor (“first rung”) is the spouses’ habitual residence, the second the spouses’ habitual residence during the marriage if one spouse has maintained that habitual residence. Only the third step refers to the shared nationality.

The new law will come into force 31 March 2020. The new provisions apply to international adoptions that were not completed before that date (article 229 § 51 EGBGB).

Cultural Identity in Private International Family Law

The era of globalization is characterized by the dynamic movement of people across borders and migration in various parts of the world. The juxtaposition and coexistence of different ethnic, cultural or religious groups within society poses the challenge of accommodating divergent legal, religious and customary norms. Of key concern is how far the fundamental values of the receiving state ought to be imposed on all persons on the soil, and to what extent the customs, beliefs and the cultural identity of individuals belonging to minority groups should be respected. This challenge arguably requires reconsidering and reevaluating the conventional methods of private international law that are grounded in the territorial “localization” of legal relationships. Against this background, Yuko Nishitani (Professor at Kyoto University, Japan) envisaged studying various conflict of laws issues from the viewpoint of cultural identity in private international family law and delivered a lecture at the Hague Academy of International Law on “Identité culturelle en droit international privé de la famille”, which has been published in Recueil des cours, Vol. 401 (2019), pp. 127-450.

In her lecture, Nishitani first analyzes the notion and meaning of cultural identity in private international law, after comparatively delineating legal developments in major legal systems (Chapter I). The author posits that, while the notion of cultural identity should not be understood as its own legal category, it serves as a guiding principle and theoretical foundation in justifying certain solutions in private international law (Chapter II).

In multiethnic and multicultural societies, the belonging of individuals to states, regions, communities or other groups is gradually relativised and redefined. In light of the recent effects of globalization, the author contemplates the appropriate methods for determining the personal law to cater for the cultural identity of individuals, overcoming the conventional dichotomy between the principle of nationality and the principle of habitual residence (Chapter III). Considering the multiplication of relevant legal and social norms, the author also considers the interaction between state law and customary, religious or cultural non-state norms to seek solutions for “conflict of norms” in a broader sense (Chapter IV).

On the other hand, for the sake of coherence and security of the legal system, the state exercises control, where necessary, to preclude effects of foreign legal institutions. It is essential to define the functioning of public policy and fundamental rights so as to set limits to respect for cultural identity (Chapter V). Finally, the author reflects on alternative conflict of laws methods geared toward administrative and judicial cooperation between sovereign states, with a view to accommodating the cultural identity of individuals (Chapter VI).

At the end of her lecture, the author highlights the importance of constructive dialogue between different cultures, given that humanity has a long history of success in mutually developing, exchanging and enriching its diverse cultures.

More information about the author and the book are available here (in French).

Child Abduction and Habitual Residence in the Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada, in Office of the Children’s Lawyer v Balev (available here), has evolved the law in Canada on the meaning of a child’s habitual residence under Article 3 of the Hague Convention.  The Convention deals with the return of children wrongfully removed from the jurisdiction of their habitual residence.

A majority of the court identifies [paras 4 and 39ff] three possible approaches to habitual residence: the parental intention approach, the child-centred approach, and the hybrid approach.  The parental intention approach determines the habitual residence of a child by the intention of the parents with the right to determine where the child lives.  This approach has been the dominant one in Canada.  In contrast, the hybrid approach, instead of focusing primarily on either parental intention or the child’s acclimatization, looks to all relevant considerations arising from the facts of the case.  A majority of the court, led by the (now retired) Chief Justice, holds that the law in Canada should be the hybrid approach [paras 5 and 48].  One of the main reasons for the change is that the hybrid approach is used in many other Hague Convention countries [paras 49-50].

The dissent (three of the nine judges) would maintain the parental intention approach [para 110].  One of its central concerns is the flexibility and ambiguity of the hybrid approach [para 111], which the judges worry will lead to less clarity and more litigation.  Wrongful removal cases will become harder to resolve in a timely manner [paras 151-153].

The majority did not apply the law to the facts of the underlying case, it having become moot during the process of the litigation [para 6].  The court rendered its decision to provide guidance going forward.  The dissent would have denied the appeal on the basis that the child’s habitual residence was in Germany (as the lower courts had held).

The court briefly addresses the exception to Article 3 in what is commonly known as “Article 13(2)” (since it is not numbered as such) – a child’s objection to return – setting out its understanding of how to apply it [paras 75-81 and 157-160].

The Supreme Court of Canada has recently adopted the practice of preparing summaries of its decisions (available here for this decision) to make them more accessible to the media and the public.  These are called “Cases in Brief”.

Implementation of Art. 56 Brussels IIa in Greece

Following the formation of a specialized law drafting committee nearly 4 years ago, the implementation Act on cross border placement of children in accordance with Art. 56 Brussels IIa has been published in the Official State Gazette on June 23, 2017. The ‘Act’ constitutes part of a law, dealing with a number of issues irrelevant to the subject matter in question. The pertinent provisions are Articles 33-46 Law 4478/2017.

Art. 33 establishes the competent Central Authority, which is the Department for International Judicial Cooperation in Civil and Criminal Cases, attached to the Hellenic MoJ. Art. 34 lists the necessary documents to be submitted to the Greek Central Authority. Art. 35-37 state the requirements and the procedure for the placement of a child to an institution or a foster family in Greece. Advance payment for covering the essential needs of the child, and the duty of foreign Authorities to inform the respective Greek Central Authority in case of changes regarding the child’s status, are covered under Art. 38 & 39 respectively.

Art. 40 regulates the reverse situation, i.e. the placement of a Greek minor to an institution or a foster family within an EU Member State. A prior consent of the competent foreign State Authority is imperative, pursuant to Art. 41. The necessary documents are listed under Art. 42, whereas the procedure to be followed is explained in Art. 43. The modus operandi regarding the transmission of the judgment to the foreign Authority is clarified in Art. 44. A duty of the Prosecution Office for minors to request information on the status of the child at least every six months is established under Art. 45. Finally, Art. 46 covers aspects of transitional nature.

Prima facie it should be stated that the implementing provisions are welcome. In a country where not a single domestic tool has been enacted in the field of judicial cooperation in civil matters since the Brussels Convention era, this move allows us to hope for further initiatives by the government. However, swiftness is the key word in the matter at stake, and I wouldn’t be sure whether the procedure enacted would fully serve the cause.

Beyond that, there are some other hot topics related to the Brussels IIa Regulation and its implementation in Greece, the first and foremost being the rules and procedures for issuing the certificates referred to in Art. 39, 41 & 42 [Annexes I-IV of the Regulation]. Bearing in mind that the latter forms almost part of the court’s daily routine (at least in major first instance courts of the country), priority should have been given to an implementing act providing guidance on this issue, in stead of opting to elaborate on a matter with seemingly minimal practical implications.

Last but not least, it should be reminded that a relevant study has been released last year, commissioned by the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the JURI Committee of the European Parliament, which may be retrieved here.

Conference: Cross Border Family Litigation in Europe. The Brussels IIbis Recast (Milan, 14 october 2016)

The University of Milan (Department of International, Legal, Historical and Political Studies) will host on Friday 14 October 2016 (14h00) a conference on “Cross border family litigation in Europe. The Brussels IIbis recast“.

Here is the programme (the sessions will be held in English and Italian):

Welcoming addresses

  • Chiara Tonelli (Vice-Rector for Research, Univ. of Milan)
  • Laura Ammannati (Director of the Department of International, Legal, Historical and Political Studies)

Chair: Stefania Bariatti (Univ. of Milan)

The Brussels IIbis recast

  • Joanna Serdynska (Civil Justice Policy, DG Justice, European Commission): The Commission’s proposal
  • Anatol Dutta (Universität Regensburg – MPI Hamburg): A comment on the Commission’s Proposal from a member of the Commission’s Expert Group

Round Table – The Commission’s Proposal: exchange of views among judges, practitioners and academics

  • Giuseppe Buffone (Milan Court, Family Division)
  • Monica Velletti (Rome Court, Family Division)
  • Suzanne Todd (Whiters LPP, London)
  • Cinzia Calabrese (President of AIAF Lombardia)
  • Carlo Rimini (Univ. of Milan)
  • Ilaria Viarengo (Univ. of Milan)

Closing remarks: Stefania Bariatti (Univ. of Milan)

Venue: Sala Lauree, Facoltà di Scienze Politiche, Economiche e Sociali, University of Milan.

(Many thanks to Prof. Ilaria Viarengo for the tip-off)

Conference: “The Economic Dimension of Cross-Border Families: Planning the Future” (Milan, 13 March 2015)

UniMIThe University of Milan will host on 13 March 2015 a conference on “The Economic Dimension of Cross-Border Families: Planning the Future”. The sessions will be held in English and Italian. Here’s the programme (available as a .pdf file):

14h00 Welcoming addresses

  • Gianluca Vago (Rector, University of Milan)
  • Laura Ammannati (Director of the Department of International, Legal, Historical and Political Studies)
  • Ilaria Viarengo (Coordinator of the PhD course on International and European Law, University of Milan)

Chair: Stefania Bariatti (University of Milan)

14h15 Revision of Brussels IIa: Current State of Play

  • Joanna Serdynska (Civil Justice Policy, DG Justice, European Commission)

14h45 Property Rights of International Couples and Registered Partnerships: The Role of Parties’ Autonomy

  • Cristina González Beilfuss (Universitat de Barcelona)
  • Ilaria Viarengo  (University of Milan)

15h30 The Coordination of the EU Legislation on Divorce, Maintenance and Property

  • Maria Caterina Baruffi (University of Verona)
  • Francesca Villata (University of Milan)

16h00 Discussion

16h30 The Interaction Among Succession and Property

  • Anatol Dutta (MPI Hamburg – Universität Regensburg)

16h50 Planning the Future: Practical Issues

  • Gloria Servetti (Judge, Chair IX Sezione Tribunale Milano)
  • Franco Salerno Cardillo (Notary, Palermo)

17h30 Discussion

18h00 Closing Remarks: Stefania Bariatti

– – –

Attendance is free of charge but registration is required. Further information and the registration form are available on the conference’s webpage.

(Many thanks to Prof. Ilaria Viarengo for the tip-off)

Swiss Institute of Comparative Law: 24e Journée de DIP on International Family Law

On Friday, 16th March 2012, the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law (ISDC) will host the 24th Journée de droit international privé, organised in collaboration with the University of Lausanne (Center of Comparative Law, European Law and International Law – CDCEI). The conference will analyse the latest developments in international family law, under a Swiss and an EU perspective : “Derniers développements suisses et européens en droit international privé de la famille”. Here’s the programme:

Mot de bienvenue par les organisateurs (09h00 – 09h10):

  • Christina Schmid (Directrice à l’Institut suisse de droit comparé);
  • Andrea Bonomi (Directeur CDCEI de l’Université de Lausanne).

Première Session (09h10 – 11h00)
Le divorce et ses conséquences:

  • La révision du droit international privé du divorce et de la  prévoyance professionnelle, Gian Paolo Romano (Professeur, Université de Genève);
  • Le droit applicable en matière de divorce selon le règlement  européen Rome III, Cristina Gonzalez Beilfuss (Professeure, Université de Barcelone);
  • Le droit applicable aux conséquences patrimoniales du divorce  dans les Etats de l’Union européenne, Andrea Bonomi (Professeur, Université de Lausanne)
  • Discussion et questions.

11h00 – 11h30 Café offert par l’Association des Alumni et Amis de l’ISDC (AiSDC)

Deuxième Session (11h30 – 13h00)
Le mariage et les actes d’état civil:

  • IPR Aspekte der Zwangsheiraten, Lukas Bopp (Dr. iur., Avocat à Bâle);
  • Le droit du nom entre réformes législatives et évolution du contexte européen, Michel Montini (Avocat à Neuchâtel, Maître de conférence à l’Université de Fribourg);
  • Discussion et questions.

13h00 – 14h30 Déjeuner

Troisième Session (14h30 – 16h30)
La protection des mineurs:

  • Nouvelles de La Haye : la Sixième réunion de la Commission  spéciale sur les Conventions de 1980 et 1996, Joëlle Küng (Collaboratrice juridique, Conférence de La Haye  de droit international privé);
  • La jurisprudence relative au règlement européen  Bruxelles II bis, Bea Verschraegen (Professeure, Université de Vienne);
  • La réforme du règlement européen Bruxelles II bis, Daria Solenik (Collaboratrice scientifique à l’ISDC);
  • Discussion et questions.

The conference will be held in French and German (no translation is provided). For further information (including fees) see the conference’s programme and the registration form.

(Many thanks to Prof. Andrea Bonomi)

Rome III Regulation Published in the Official Journal

The Rome III regulation (see our most recent post here, with links to the previous ones) has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union n. L 343 of 29 December 2010. The official reference is the following: Council Regulation (EU) No 1259/2010 of 20 December 2010 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the law applicable to divorce and legal separation (OJ n. L 343, p. 10 ff.).

Pursuant to its Art. 21(2), the regulation should apply from 21 June 2012 in the 14 Member States which currently participate in the enhanced cooperation (Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia).

Art. 18 (Transitional provisions) provides that “[the] regulation shall apply only to legal proceedings instituted and to agreements of the kind referred to in Article 5 [choice of the applicable law by the spouses] concluded as from 21 June 2012”. The same article stipulates that “effect shall also be given to an agreement on the choice of the applicable law concluded before 21 June 2012, provided that it complies with Articles 6 and 7” (rules governing material and formal validity of the agreement). As regards proceedings commenced in the court of a participating Member State before 21 June 2012, the regulation will be without prejudice to pacta de lege utenda concluded in accordance with the law of that State (Art. 18(2)).

In order to make national rules concerning formal and procedural requirements of an optio legis fully accessible, Art. 17 (applicable from 21 June 2011) requires the participating Member States to communicate any relevant information in respect thereof  to the Commission, which will make them publicly available, in particular through the website of the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters.

(Many thanks to Federico Garau – Conflictus Legum blog – for the tip-off)