Europe returns to debate on harmonisation of matrimonial property law


The EC is holding a public hearing in Brussels next month to discuss conflicts between members states’ matrimonial property regimes.

The European Commission has convened an open public meeting to discuss conflicts between member states’ matrimonial property regimes.

As well as matrimonial property, it will also discuss “patrimonial aspects of other forms of union”.

The public meeting is part of a lengthy consultation process. In July 2006 the Commission published a Green Paper on “the conflict of laws in matters concerning matrimonial property regimes, including the question of jurisdiction and mutual recognition”. That paper was itself based on a report prepared by Justice Directorate officials five years earlier.

Most EU member states and several other parties submitted responses to the Green Paper, and the Commission published them in May 2007. STEP submitted its comments in collaboration with the E&W Law Society (see Sources below). It warned that the Green Paper proposals – based on the civil law system – would be “impossible to integrate within England and Wales”, because common law as used in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, the Republic of Ireland and Malta has no concept of a matrimonial property regime. Thus the British government would probably have to opt out of the European harmonisation initiative, unless heavily modified.

The hearing will be held in Brussels on 28 September 2009. Interested parties must register by 18 September; numbers are limited.

Sources: European Union meeting announcement, European Union: responses to Green Paper, STEP/Law Society comments

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