New Tory EU split as Grieve outflanks Hannan as sceptic

Today's Daily Mail scare story exposes a new EU Tory split with Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve outflanking Daniel Hannan as a eurosceptic.

Today’s Daily Mail scare story exposes a new EU Tory split with Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve outflanking Daniel Hannan as a eurosceptic.

The story titled “Could the EU ‘house grab’ law be applied to UK homes?” outlines fears that:

“British citizens could have their homes snatched from them on the orders of a European court under a new Brussels power grab.”

Dominic Grieve is quoted saying:

“It beggars belief that Ministers are considering signing up to rules which would create such uncertainty in the property market and could even see British families lose their homes as a result of legal cases overseas involving people they have never known and in which they might not be represented.

“The Government’s own advisers say that this rule could ‘blight’ properties and add considerable costs to moving home, so we should not hesitate to reject it.”

But these fears are just that: a scare story. Although in many EU countries, there is a legal requirement that a proportion of the deceased estate should be left to blood relatives, this will not apply in the UK. Indeed, the Government has made clear that it will remain a fundamental principle of UK law that individuals are free to determine what to do with their assets during their lifetime and to determine (by making a will) how any remaining assets are distributed after their death.

And praise for the legislation comes from an unusual source. Eurosceptic MEP Daniel Hannan, who recently resigned from his front bench role in protest at David Cameron’s Lisbon Treaty u-turn, released a press release on the law chanhe in October, which said:

“What is being proposed is proportionate, restrained and, above all, voluntary. At a time when many in Brussels are pursuing the mistaken goal of the harmonisation of civil law, this idea represents a superior alternative: one that would allow the citizen to choose between different national systems.

“If the EU restricted itself to cross-border issues of this kind, it might not be so unpopular.”

7 Responses to “New Tory EU split as Grieve outflanks Hannan as sceptic”

  1. Will Straw

    New Tory EU split as Grieve outflanks Hannan as sceptic http://bit.ly/5xMjk1

  2. Costello

    So a single Tory MEP is quoted given an opinion which conflicts with a quote given by a single Tory MP. Wow, civil war in the Conservative Party must be just round the corner.

  3. Anon E Mouse

    I hate paying taxes when I’m alive, especially when they go to pay for duck houses for MP’s and not to help the poor and I applaud Alistar Darling for increasing Inheritance Tax – nice one.

    I hate the state having control of your assets when you’re dead – the less I have to give to these vagabonds and thieves the better so it’s a good story I think…

  4. Rob

    “Although in many EU countries, there is a legal requirement that a proportion of the deceased estate should be left to blood relatives, this will not apply in the UK. Indeed, the Government has made clear that it will remain a fundamental principle of UK law that individuals are free to determine what to do with their assets during their lifetime and to determine (by making a will) how any remaining assets are distributed after their death.”

    Sorry Will, but that’s a half truth. It’s true that UK law will allow people to choose what to do with their property, but UK law won’t necessarily govern the descent of a British property under these rules. If a person in another country – say Belgium – challenges a transaction in London as having been designed to evade Belgian forced heirship rules, then they will be able to apply to have a Belgian court undo the transaction, and the UK courts will be forced to enforce the ruling. So UK law may uphold freedom of choice, but you have 26 other legal systems which may not, and under this rule they will be able to govern descent of UK property.

  5. Mark

    But Rob this proposal does not apply to cases where an asset has been sold. The Daily Mail says the following: “Plans for an EU shake-up of inheritance law will leave homeowners vulnerable to the potential loss of their property if it was ever owned by someone with relatives abroad.”
    Completely wrong. It could only apply if it was given to them by someone with relatives abroad.
    The Mail goes on:
    “That means the relatives in France, Germany or Spain could stake a claim to property which has since been purchased by someone else in Britain.”
    That is also completely wrong. There could never be “clawback” on a property previous owned by someone else. It could only apply if a property had been given to another person.

  6. Rob

    “Completely wrong. It could only apply if it was given to them by someone with relatives abroad.”
    “That is also completely wrong. There could never be “clawback” on a property previous owned by someone else. It could only apply if a property had been given to another person.”

    Sorry, you’re wrong. The property could have been bought FROM someone who had been given it. Some EU countries limit recovery to the “first donee”. Others don’t. Some don’t allow recovery from a subsequent purchaser but do allow them to be pursued for a monetary sum instead. Read the paper by the Professor cited in the article – it was commissioned by the Ministry.

    It could also apply if the property hadn’t been an outright gift, but had been sold for less than its value.

  7. Mark

    Ah, so just to be clear, if the UK Government decides to opt in to the proposals, and if UK law on title was amended as a result, and if someone was to buy a house in the UK from a (non-UK) citizen of certain EU states and if it turned out that the property had previously been given to someone else as a gift, or for a nominal peppercorn sum, and if the person who gave the house away, or sold it for a dime, then died, and if their offspring were seeking to recoup their parents’ assets and if they couldn’t do so by pursuing the person to whom the property was given, or sold at a nominal value, then it might just be possible to make a challenge to the person who now owns the house bought from the person who had earlier given it as a gift, or sold it at a peppercorn sum. Yes it’s clear now. It’s a massive threat, obviously, to millions of homeowners.

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