Overseas Chambers of Peter Harris

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Jersey, JE2 7ZW

53. The French proposal for a prélèvement successoral which risks breaching the EU Succession Regulation and undermining current British succession planning for French assets

December 22nd 2020

In a bid to strengthen French secular republican values, the Macron Government has proposed a Bill containing measures designed to block and push back the current tendency towards sectarianist and "comunautarianist" (sic) disregard to the Republican principles undergirding the French constitution.

That, given the recent bloody events in France at la Bataclan and other public spaces, is of little surprise. The Projet de loi pour le réconfort des principes républicains is counched in such terms, and has now been laid before the Assemblée Nationale for full plenary, albeit virtual debate.

As a French national, I support the general principle.

However as a French national and at the present moment, still a European Union lawyer,  I have great difficulty with the deliberately opaque article 13, which purports to reintroduce a tweaked version of what is known as the prélèvement successoral. That law was ruled unconstitutional by the Conseil Constitutionnel in 2011 in the Elke B QPC.

Contrary to what is heralded in the surrounding political bumph and introduction, article 13 is in blatant breach of other constitutionally protected principles, namely those enabling the EU Succession Regulation, and, if adopted without total redrafing, would mean that most British nationals and residents who have used the Regulation to regulate their successions in France will find these undone or at least undoable by disgruntled heirs.

This French incursion into European Private international law needs to be watched carefully.

Please see the Overseas Chambers resources page for a further but more detailled commentary.

The projet de loi might undergo some changes, so keep watching this page for developments.