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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.
The most important international conventions include:
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
Applicable law for relations between parents and children born in wedlock (Article 18 of the Civil Code):
Applicable law for relations between the mother and father and a child born out of wedlock (Articles 19 and 20 of the Civil Code):
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):
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:
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).
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.
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).
Applicable law for personal relations between spouses (Article 14 of the Civil Code):
The applicable law is the law regulating the spouses' personal relations immediately after the marriage is celebrated (Article 15 of the Civil Code).
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 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).
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).
Last update: 01-08-2007