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Cross-border Enforcement of English Ancillary Relief Orders: Fog in the Channel – Europe Cut Off?

Date:25 MAR 2010

JENS M SCHERPE, University Lecturer in Law and Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge, ANATOL DUTTA, Senior Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

 In some cases English judgments have to be enforced in ‘Europe', irrespective of fog in the Channel or failure of the Eurostar. In a recent case, the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice, the German supreme court), had to decide whether and how a decision by the High Court on ancillary relief was to be enforced in Germany. The lessons that can - and indeed need to - be learned from that decision are important for anyone dealing with family law cases where enforcement in continental Europe is a possibility. Before looking at the decision itself, it is necessary - although probably most readers of Family Law will be familiar with this - to reiterate that the approaches to the financial consequences of divorce in England and continental Europe are fundamentally different (for a brief comparison see Scherpe, ‘Matrimonial Causes for Concern? A Comparative Analysis of Miller v Miller; McFarlane v McFarlane' (2007) 18 King's Law Journal 348-360). The crucial distinction is whether the financial consequences of divorce are seen as a single-pillar or a multi-pillar system.

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