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Pan-European divorce rules defeated - for now

Date:1 JUL 2008

Proposals to set down common rules to determine which court will hear a cross-border divorce case and which law will apply have finally hit a brick wall.

After years of negotiation, Justice Ministers admitted last month that it was impossible to reach the unanimous agreement needed to adopt the so-called Rome III proposal on jurisdiction and applicable law in matrimonial matters. Since the outset the proposal has been thwarted by political and cultural divisions principally between liberal Scandinavian countries and those with a more traditional outlook. Moreover, one Member State (Malta) doesnt recognise divorce at all.

However, all may not be lost as a number of national governments are determined to see rules in this area and may group together to take the proposal forward. Any future agreement would however only affect those countries who have signed up to it. It is expected that this is something the French will take up during their Presidency which began this month.

This article is reproduced with kind permission of the Law Societies' Brussels Office. © 2008 Law Societies' Brussels Office.