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Gogova v lliev (Case C-215/15)

Date:27 OCT 2015
Law Reporter
(Court of Justice of the European Union, 21 October 2015)

[The judgment and accompanying headnote has now published in Family Law Reports [2016] 1 FLR 158]

Private law children – Passport issue – BIIR – Father opposed mother’s application to renew child’s passport – Whether the matter fell within the terms of Art 8 of BIIR

Please see attached file below for the full judgment.

The CJEU gave a preliminary ruling in proceedings in Bulgaria regarding the issue of a passport for the Bulgarian child living in Italy.

The 10-year-old child was a Bulgarian national but lived in Italy where both parents lived separately. When the mother sought to renew the child's Bulgarian passport the father refused to grant his consent for her to do so which was required under Bulgarian law.

The mother asked the Bulgarian district court to determine the matter but the father could not be located for service of the application to be affected on him. A legal representative was instructed to represent him. The representative did not contest the jurisdiction of the court and stated that the dispute should be resolved in the best interests of the child.

On appeal the court held that for the purposes of Art 8 of BIIR the child was habitually resident in Italy and, therefore, the Bulgarian court lacked jurisdiction to determine matters of parental responsibility. An appeal was pending before the Bulgarian Supreme Court which made a reference for a preliminary ruling to the CJEU on the issue of whether the issue to be determined in this case in respect of the passport renewal fell within the meaning of 'matters of parental responsibility' for the purposes of Art 8 and whether the jurisdiction of the Bulgarian court may be founded upon Art 12 in view of the fact that the father's legal representative did not challenge the jurisdiction of the Bulgarian court.

The CJEU ruled that the concept of parental responsibility was given a broad definition in the Regulation and that the action in this case was clearly within that definition. That was the case even though the decision in that action will have to be taken into account by the authorities of the Member State of which the child is a national in the administrative procedure for the issue of the passport.

Further, Art 12(3)(b) of BIIR had to be interpreted as meaning that the jurisdiction of the courts seised of an application in matters of parental responsibility may not be regarded as having been 'accepted expressly or otherwise in an unequivocal manner by all the parties to the proceedings' within the meaning of that provision solely because the legal representative of the defendant, appointed by those courts of their own motion in view of the impossibility of serving the document instituting proceedings on the defendant, has not pleaded the lack of jurisdiction of the courts

21 October 2015

(Reference for a preliminary ruling — Judicial cooperation in civil matters — Jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of decisions in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility — Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 — Scope — Article 1(1)(b) — Attribution, exercise, delegation, restriction or termination of parental responsibility — Article 2 — Concept of parental responsibility — Dispute between parents on travel by their child and the issue of a passport to the child — Prorogation of jurisdiction — Article 12 — Conditions — Acceptance of the jurisdiction of the courts seised — Non-appearance of the defendant — Jurisdiction not contested by the defendant’s legal representative appointed by the courts seised of their own motion)

In Case C 215/15

REQUEST for a preliminary ruling under Article 267 TFEU from the Varhoven kasatsionen sad (Supreme Court of Cassation, Bulgaria)

made by decision of 11 May 2015,
received at the Court on the same date

In the proceedings

Vasilka Ivanova Gogova


Ilia Dimitrov Iliev

THE COURT (Fourth Chamber),composed of L. Bay Larsen, President of the Third Chamber, acting as President of the Fourth Chamber, J. Malenovský, M. Safjan, A. Prechal and K. Jürimäe (Rapporteur), Judges,Advocate General: P. Mengozzi,Registrar: I. Illéssy, Administrator

Having regard to the decision of the President of the Court of 3 July 2015 that the case be dealt with under the accelerated procedure, in accordance with Article 23a of the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union and Article 105(1) of the Rules of Procedure of the Court

having regard to the written procedure and further to the hearing on 9 September 2015

after considering the observations submitted on behalf of:

–        the Czech Government, by J. Vláčil, acting as Agent
–        the Spanish Government, by A. Sampol Pucurull, acting as Agent
–        the European Commission, by S. Petrova and M. Wilderspin, acting as Agents,after hearing the Advocate General

gives the following

Gogova v lliev (Case C-215/15)