Home > Family > Germany > 2009-12-09 - Federal Court of Justice, n. XII ZR 107/08

2009-12-09 - Federal Court of Justice, n. XII ZR 107/08

Family · Germany · Dowry · Mahr · Marriage

Classification of dowry (mahr) in conflict of laws. Adaptation of dowry concerning Iranian cash value progression

Key facts of the case - A married Iranian couple with Iranian citizenship made a dowry (mahr) agreement in the year 1992 in the amount of 15.000.000 Iranian Rial (Riyal). Later both of them immigrated to Germany and became German citizens. In 2006 they were divorced. According to the time of the pending suit (2006) the dowers value is 1.428,23 €. According to the time of the marriage the dowry value is 13.204,60 € according to Article 1082 ICC.
In the appellate court the wife (claimant) argued that Iranian law has to be applied and that the value of money progression must be considered with the result that she obtained 13.204,60 € according to Article 1082 ICC.
Now the husband claims in the next appellate court and argues that German law must be applied with the dowry value 1.428,23 €.

Main reasoning of the court - A dowry is not subject to the effects of the matrimonial property regime, but rather a general effect of marriage. Thus it has to be applied Article 14 EGBGB – not Article 15 I, 14 I n. 1 EGBGB like the first appellate court did.
According to Article 14 EGBGB and the fact that both are German citizens, only German law can be applied.
There is no general classification of a dowry relating to German law. Moreover it can be a contractual obligation by the husband. There are only two ways of money value adaptation (contractual interpretation and contractual basis abolition according to § 313 BGB). Both ways don’t apply to this case. So the amount of the dowry is still 1.428,23 €.

Comment - This landmark ruling ends a 20 year enduring dispute of case law whether using Article 15 EGBGB or Article 14 EGBGB in cases like that. Now this decision of general principle affects that Article 14 EGBGB which allows a changing general effects of marriage (compared to Article 15 EGBGB) must be applied.