France: the draft code of private international law

France Code Droit International Prive Lexunion

After three years of work, the working group commissioned by the Keeper of the Seals to “reflect on a project to codify French private international law” submitted its draft code of private international law on 31 March 2022. This project consists of six books and a total of 207 articles covering all aspects of French private international law.

The idea of codifying French private international law has long been contemplated. Although the working group could refer to the previous projects, there were nevertheless some new issues to contend with, associated with the adoption of a number of international instruments in this area. A thorough reflection on the interconnection of the various sources of French private international law needed to be carried out. The methodology adopted comprises specifying in Article 1 of the Code that it applies outside the scope of European Union law or conventional law, while envisaging provisions for coordination with or reference to international texts. The main objective was to improve the accessibility and readability of French private international law in order to promote the attractiveness of the French legal system.

The drafting of the code also provided an opportunity to make corrections or improvements to certain provisions relating to private international law. This is particularly the case for the right of compensatory levy set out in Article 913(3) of the French Civil Code. The drafters of the project wished to maintain a levy mechanism, refocusing it on its primary objective of combating discrimination. The trigger for the right of levy would therefore no longer be the application to succession of a foreign law that does not provide any reserve mechanism to protect children, but rather the existence of discrimination based, for example, on gender, religion or the parent-child relationship. While this new system’s compliance with France’s international commitments is to be commended (unlike the current Article 913(3), which has frequently been censured for contradicting European Regulation no. 650/2012), its usefulness is unclear. Indeed, a discriminatory devolution of inheritance, whether intestate or testamentary, could already be ruled out on the grounds of being contrary to international public order.

Author: Eugénie GUICHOT, Groupe Althémis, Paris


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