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Monaco catching up on private international law

On the 28th of June 2017, the National Council of Monaco voted a new Act on private international law. The update completed the existing provisions and introduced a legal solution to the competent jurisdiction and applicable law in situations involving various jurisdictions. Furthermore, the act established recognition of foreign decisions and instruments. Monaco is the home of over 140 nationalities who decided to elect domicile (residence) in the principaute for work, retirement or tax advantages.

Law and Jurisdiction Conflicts

There are some questions regarding conflicts of law, jurisdictions and the practical need for legislative updates for the residents and nationals living there. Monegasque private international law lacks clarity and text. It is most often based on old judicial precedents or references to French judicial precedents. On the 17th of August 2015, European succession law (dated the 4th of July 2012) came into force across the E.U. (except for Denmark, England & Wales and Ireland). Monaco had to adapt its international law to join the rest of Europe with legislation that would correspond to the need of its nationals and residents.

Monaco Succession Law

The legislation, inspired by the recent E.U. legislation on marital regimes and successions, set out some rules that directly impact Notaires dealing with a cross-border estate. As far as succession law is concerned, the new legislation abandoned the law applicable to movable or immovable assets, known as the concept of scissionnisme. From the 8th of July, a succession opened in Monaco will be governed by the law of the deceased's domicile (generally Monaco) with the option of a professio juris limited to the law of the deceased's nationality.

Monaco Succession Law For U.K. Citizens

This solution will benefit U.K. citizens living in Monaco, who can choose U.K. law to govern the settlement of their estate and avoid Monaco's restrictive heirship (reserve). Indeed, the succession law has a twist that may affect or benefit a number of Monegasque residents. In article 63.2, the legislation states that the law applicable to the estate settlement cannot deprive an heir of the reserve that he would have been entitled to under the deceased national law. Nor can it impose such reserve on an heir to which the deceased's national law ignores such reserve.

Monaco Marital Law

The second main rule relates to the matrimonial regime and the choice offered to future spouses to choose their marital law. Again, the law is inspired by the well-known Hague convention (14th of March 1978) and the recent E.U. legislation on matrimonial regimes that was enacted last year on the 24th of June 2016 and will come into force on the 29th of January 2019. 

The spouses have the freedom to choose the law applicable to their matrimonial regime. The choice of law is limited to the following options: 

  • the law of the State of their domicile after the marriage, 
  • the law of the State of which one of them has the nationality at the time of the choice,
  • the law of the State in whose territory one of the spouses has his domicile at the time of the choice 
  • the law of the State where the marriage is celebrated.

Monaco Marital Law In The Absence Of Choice

In the absence of a choice of law, the matrimonial regime is governed by: 

  • 1. by the law of the Country where the spouses establish their domicile after the marriage; - 
  • 2. in the absence of domicile, by the law of the Country of which both spouses are nationals at the time of the celebration of the marriage; - 
  • 3. in the absence of a domicile and a common nationality, or in the case of a plurality of common nationalities, by Monegasque law

Brexit and the new rules of domicile in England will, no doubt, create a new interest in relocation to Monaco.

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