European Commission > EJN > Applicable law > Greece

Last update: 01-08-2007
Printable version Bookmark this page

Applicable law - Greece

EJN logo

This page is now obsolete. The update is currently being prepared and will be available in the European e-Justice Portal.


Where a legal relationship between individuals has elements which connect it with more than one state (an international element) and a dispute arises, the Greek courts do not necessarily apply Greek law and will investigate which law must be applied (the applicable law) on the basis of private international law. Private international law is a mechanism which operates on the basis of rules of conflict in order to determine the applicable law (i.e. the provisions of the law of one country), which may be the law of the court in question or of another country. The rules of conflict are determined on the basis of one or more connecting factors. The connecting factor is the factor of a dispute with an international element that activates a specific rule of private international law in order to determine the applicable law in the case in question.



 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. SOURCES OF THE RULES IN FORCE I.
I.1. National rules I.1.
I.2. International conventions I.2.
II. IMPLEMENTATION OF CONFLICT OF LAW RULES II.
II.1. Obligation of the judge to apply conflict of law rules on his/her own initiative II.1.
II.2. Renvoi II.2.
II.3. Change of connecting factor II.3.
II.4. Exceptions to the normal application of the conflict rules II.4.
II.5. Proof of foreign law II.5.
III. CONFLICT OF LAW RULES III.
III.1. Contractual obligations III.1.
III.2. Non-contractual obligations III.2.
III.3. Personal status III.3.
III.4. Parent-child relationship. Adoption. III.4.
III.5. Marriage III.5.
III.6. Matrimonial property regimes and personal relations between spouses III.6.
III.7. Wills and successions III.7.
III.8. Real property III.8.
III.9. Insolvency III.9.

 

I. SOURCES OF THE RULES IN FORCE

I.1. National rules

Greek laws are the basic source of Greek private international law. The basic provisions are found in the Civil Code (Articles 4-33), although there are also provisions in other laws, such as law 5960/1933 on cheques (Articles 70-76). The concept of law also includes bilateral and multilateral international conventions ratified by Greece which, once they have been ratified, apply in the same way as Greek national law.

I.2. International conventions

Α. Multilateral

The most important international conventions include:

  • Geneva Convention of 19.05.1956 on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road, ratified by Greece by law 559/1977.
  • Hague Convention of 05.10.1961 on the Conflicts of Laws Relating to the Form of Testamentary Dispositions, ratified by Greece by law 1325/1983.
  • Rome Convention of 19.06.1980 on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations, ratified by Greece by law 1792/1988.

Β. Bilateral

The most important bilateral international conventions include:

The convention between Greece and the USA (ratified by law 2893/1954) and the convention between Greece and Cyprus (ratified by law 1548/1985). The applicable law in disputes between companies incorporated in Greece, the USA and Cyprus is the law of the state in which they were incorporated.

II. IMPLEMENTATION OF CONFLICT OF LAW RULES

II.1. Obligation of the judge to apply conflict of law rules on his/her own initiative

Where under the conflict of law rules in Greek private international law the law of another country is the applicable law, the Greek judge takes this into account on his/her own initiative, i.e. without the need for the litigants to cite it or to order proof of the content of its provisions (Article 337 of the Code of Civil Procedure).

TopTop

II.2. Renvoi

Where the rules of Greek private international law stipulate that the law of another country applies, the provisions of its substantive law apply and no reference is made to the provisions of that country's private international law (Article 32 of the Civil Code), which in turn might stipulate that Greek law or the law of some third state applied.

II.3. Change of connecting factor

The connecting factor of a legal relationship often changes during the course of the relationship (e.g. a movable is transferred from one country to another, in which case the applicable law also changes). There are rules which explicitly provide a solution as to which law ultimately applies; otherwise the court applies the applicable law which applied initially or subsequently or a combination of the two, depending on the actual circumstances of the case.

II.4. Exceptions to the normal application of the conflict rules

If Greek private international law (conflict of law rules) stipulates that foreign law applies but its application clashes with the fundamental moral perceptions that inform Greek public policy (Article 33 of the Civil Code), when the case in question is heard, the Greek court will not apply the relevant provision of foreign law but will apply the other foreign provisions (negative function). If, however, once its application has been precluded there is a legal vacuum in the foreign law, this will be bridged by applying Greek law (positive function).

TopTop

One way of protecting the interests of the Greek legal system is to enact rules that apply directly. These rules regulate particularly important matters in the internal legal relationships of the state and are also applied directly by the Greek courts in cases with an international element which are not resolved by the operation of Greek private international law.

II.5. Proof of foreign law

Where it is difficult to obtain knowledge of the provisions of the foreign law, the Greek court may identify them by ordering proof of the foreign law applicable or using any other means judged appropriate; this may include asking for the litigants' assistance and is not restricted to the evidence tendered (Article 337 of the Code of Civil Procedure). In Greece, the Hellenic Institute of International and Foreign Law in Athens plays an important role in providing legal information.

By way of exception, the Greek court will not investigate or apply foreign law and will apply Greek law: i) to injunctions, due to their urgency, ii) in cases in which it has been practically impossible to identify the provisions of foreign law, despite efforts made to do so.

III. CONFLICT OF LAW RULES

III.1. Contractual obligations

Α. Rome Convention

Greek courts identify the law which applies to contractual obligations with an international element on the basis of the Rome Convention of 19 June 1980, regardless of whether it is the law of a Member State or of a state which is not party to the Convention. The applicable law is determined by standard rules on connecting factors and rules that apply directly.

TopTop

  1. connection factor rules
    • the general rule stipulates that the law which applies to contractual relations between the parties is the law which they have explicitly or implicitly chosen. The parties have the option to change the applicable law initially chosen;
    • if the parties did not choose the applicable law when the contract was signed, they may choose it at a later date (e.g. in court). If the parties do not agree, the court will apply the law of the state most closely connected to the contract;
    • in property contracts, the applicable law is the law of the state in which the property is located;
    • in contracts for the transportation of goods, the applicable law is the law of the state in which the shipper is established;
  2. directly applicable rules
  3. In cases in which there is a very serious need to protect the legal order, e.g. for types of contract relating to property or contracts with consumers or employees, the applicable law is determined using directly applicable rules from one of the following legal systems:

    • the legal system of the state of the court hearing the case;
    • the legal system of the state whose law applies;
    • the legal system of the state with whose law all aspects of the contract are connected, despite the fact that the parties have chosen the law of another state as the applicable law.

Β. Article 25 of the Civil Code

The applicable law for all categories of contractual obligations not regulated by the Rome Convention (natural person, contracts governing securities, arbitration, choice of court, companies and inheritance and family matters) is identified on the basis of Article 25 of the Civil Code.

TopTop

  • The law which applies to contractual relations between the parties is the law which they have explicitly or tacitly chosen.
  • If the parties have not chosen, the Greek court will apply the law of the state which, under the particular circumstances, is most closely connected to the contract.

III.2. Non-contractual obligations

The law which applies to obligations arising from tort is the law of the state in which the wrong was committed (Article 26 of the Civil Code).

The law which applies to obligations arising from unjustified enrichment is the law of the state which best applies in the overall specific circumstances.

III.3. Personal status

The law which applies to issues relating to the personal capacity of a Greek or foreigner to assume rights and obligations, enter into legal transactions, sue or be sued and take part in proceedings in person is the law of the state of which the person is a national (Articles 5 and 7 of the Civil Code and Articles 62(a) and 63(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure).

III.4. Parent-child relationship. Adoption.

Α. Parent-child relationship issues relate to the family ties between parents and children and the associated rights and obligations.

When deciding if a child qualifies as having have been born in or out of wedlock (Article 17 of the Civil Code), the applicable law is:

  • the law of the state which regulated the personal relationship between the child's mother and her spouse when the child was born;
  • where the marriage was dissolved before the child was born, the law of the state which regulated the personal relationship between the child's mother and her spouse when the marriage was dissolved.

The applicable law as regards the legal possibility of a child born out of wedlock to be legitimised (Article 1 of the Convention of the International Commission on Civil Status of 10 September 1970, ratified by Greece under law 1657/1986) is the law of the state of which the father or mother is a national which provides for legitimation of the child either if its parents subsequently marry or by court decision after the marriage.

TopTop

Applicable law for relations between parents and children born in wedlock (Article 18 of the Civil Code):

  • where they are nationals of the same state: the law of that state;
  • where they have acquired a new common nationality after the birth: the law of the state of their most recent common nationality;
  • where they are nationals of different states before the birth and their nationality does not change after the birth or where they are nationals of the same state before the birth but the parents' or the child's nationality changes after the birth: the law of the state in which they had their most recent joint habitual residence at the time of the birth;
  • where they have no joint habitual residence: the law of the state of which the child is a national.

Applicable law for relations between the mother and father and a child born out of wedlock (Articles 19 and 20 of the Civil Code):

  • where they are nationals of the same state: the law of that state;
  • where they have acquired a new common nationality after the birth: the law of the state of their most recent common nationality;
  • where they are nationals of different states before the birth and their nationality does not change after the birth or where they are nationals of the same state before the birth but the parents' or the child's nationality changes after the birth: the law of the state in which they had their most recent joint habitual residence at the time of the birth;
  • where they have no joint habitual residence: the law of the state of which the father or the mother is a national.

Applicable law for relations between a mother and a father who have a child which was born out of wedlock (Article 21 of the Civil Code):

TopTop

  • where they are nationals of the same state: the law of that state;
  • where they acquired a new common nationality before the birth: the law of the state of their most recent common nationality;
  • where they are nationals of different states before the birth and their nationality does not change after the birth or where they are nationals of the same state before the birth but the nationality of one of them changes after the birth: the law of the state of their most recent joint habitual residence up to the birth;
  • where they have no joint habitual residence: the law of the state of their most recent joint simple residence.

Β. Adoption

The applicable law for the conditions of adoption and terminating of adoption with an international element is the law of the state of which each person involved in the adoption is a national (Article 23 of the Civil Code). Where the persons involved in the adoption are nationals of different states, the conditions under all the laws of the corresponding states must be met and there must be no impediments under those laws in order for the adoption to be valid.

Applicable law for relationships between the adoptive parents and the child being adopted:

  • where they are nationals of the same state after the adoption: the law of that state;
  • where they acquire a new common nationality at the time of the adoption: the law of the state of their most recent common nationality;
  • where they are nationals of different states before the adoption and their nationality does not change after the adoption or where they are nationals of the same state before the adoption but the nationality of one of the persons involved in the adoption changes on completion of the adoption: the law of the state of their most recent joint habitual residence at the time of the adoption;
  • where they have no joint habitual residence: the law of the state of which the adoptive parent is a national or, if spouses are adopting, the law which regulates their personal relationship.

III.5. Marriage

Α. Substantive conditions

The applicable law for the conditions which must be met by and the impediments in the way of persons wishing to marry is the law of the state of which they are nationals if they are nationals of the same state or, if they are nationals of different states, the law of either state (Article 13(1)(a) of the Civil Code).

TopTop

Β. Procedural conditions

In order for the marriage to be formally valid, the applicable law is the law of the state of which the persons to be married are nationals, where they are nationals of the same state or, if they are nationals of different states, the law of either of the states of which they are nationals or the law of the state in which the marriage is celebrated (Article 13(1)(b) of the Civil Code). The Greek legal system requires certain formalities to be adhered to in order to celebrate a marriage; the unions of couples who cohabit but who have not been formally married are recognised as valid in Greece provided that they are recognised as valid under foreign law and the persons cohabiting are not Greek.

C. Divorce

The applicable law for matters in connection with divorce or any other form of legal separation, including maintenance for former spouses, is the law of the state which regulates the spouses' personal relationship when divorce or separation proceedings are opened (Article 16 of the Civil Code).

III.6. Matrimonial property regimes and personal relations between spouses

Α. Personal relations between spouses are the relations which are based on the marriage and which have nothing to do with property, such as cohabitation and rights and obligations, including maintenance.

Applicable law for personal relations between spouses (Article 14 of the Civil Code):

  • where the spouses are nationals of the same state after the marriage: the law of that state;
  • where the spouses have acquired a new common nationality during the marriage: the law of the state of their most recent common nationality;
  • where the spouses were nationals of the same state during the marriage and one later became a national of another state: the law of the state of their most recent common nationality, provided the other spouse is still a national of that state;
  • where the spouses are nationals of different states before the marriage and their nationality does not change after the marriage or where they were nationals of the same state before the marriage but the nationality of one of them changes on marriage: the law of the state of their most recent joint habitual residence;
  • where they do not have a joint habitual residence during the marriage: the law of the state with which the spouses are most closely connected.

Β. The matrimonial property regime applies to the property rights and corresponding obligations created by reason of the marriage.

The applicable law is the law regulating the spouses' personal relations immediately after the marriage is celebrated (Article 15 of the Civil Code).

TopTop

III.7. Wills and successions

The rules on inheritance govern the rights and obligations relating to movable and immovable property which accrue on the death of a person, irrespective of whether or not the deceased made a will.

The applicable law for all inheritance issues other than the form in which wills are drawn up and revoked is the law of the state of which the deceased was a national when he died (Article 28 of the Civil Code).

Where there is a will, it will be deemed to be valid if made in the form provided for under any of the following laws (Article 1 of the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 on the Conflicts of Laws relating to the Form of Testamentary Dispositions):

  • the law of the state in which the deceased made his will;
  • the law of the state of which the deceased was a national when he made his will or when he died;
  • the law of the state in which the deceased was resident or domiciled when he made his will or when he died;
  • where the will relates to property: the law of the state in which the property is located.

III.8. Real property

The applicable law as regards real property rights is regulated by the provisions of the Rome Convention.

The law applicable to possession of property and to all movable property rights is the law of the state in which it is located (Article 27 of the Civil Code).

The applicable law for the form of the above transactions is the law of the state in which the immovable or movable property is located (Article 12 of the Civil Code).

III.9. Insolvency

The applicable law for insolvency-related matters is the law of the state in which insolvency proceedings are opened (Article 4(1) of Regulation 1346/2000).

Further information

« Applicable law - General information | Greece - General information »

TopTop

Last update: 01-08-2007

 
  • Community law
  • International law

  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Estonia
  • Ireland
  • Greece
  • Spain
  • France
  • Italy
  • Cyprus
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Hungary
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Austria
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom