Institute for Comparative Law, Conflicts of Law and International Business Law

Research Description

The University of Heidelberg (Prof. Dr. Burkhard Hess and Stefanie Spancken, PhD-student) will take a qualitative approach in its research activities. One focus of the analysis shall address the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No. 4/2009 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations in the domestic legal systems. For this purpose the University of Heidelberg will explore whether and to what extent Member States set up specific implementing legislation in order to ensure the appropriate application of the Regulation. As a first step, existing implementing legislation in the Member State shall be collected. As a second step, common legal principles and differences shall be explored and illustrated by means of a template. First results found show that the Member States adopted quite different approaches. The examination of different approaches seems to be an important impediment to the consistent application of EU law. However, the implementing legislation of some Member States may serve as a good practice model for other Member States. One example of a comprehensive implementing instrument is Germany where a comprehensive Act on the Recovery of Maintenance Claims was enacted in May 2011. Its wide objective is to provide citizens and legal practitioners with information relating to maintenance obligations and proceedings in the Member States. In September 2011, the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference published so-called Country Profiles under the Hague Child Support Convention of 2007. These reports shall serve as the starting point of the comparative research. Another focus of research will be an in-depth analysis of the new cooperation measures and the improved functions of cross border communication. In this respect, the role and function of Central Authorities under the Hague Convention of 23 November 2007 and under the Maintenance Regulation shall be compared. We will explore how Central Authorities fulfil the requirements set up in the Maintenance Regulation in practice.

Furthermore the analysis will compare the system of judicial and administrative cooperation established by the Maintenance Regulation with the systems set up by other Hague Conventions relating to family matters, in particular the Hague Child Abduction Convention of 1980. The starting point shall be an analysis of the answers given to the questionnaires elaborated by the Hague Conference on the practical operation of the Hague Child Abduction Convention and the Hague Convention of 19 October 1996 on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children. The objective is to determine factual and legal obstacles faced by Central Authorities and parties in cross border cases.

An additional focus shall comprise the constitutional underpinnings of the Conventions and their interpretation by international tribunals like the European Court of Human Rights. With regard to the cooperation among Central Authorities, the legal position of the represented parties deserves further inquiries.