What right have we to complain?

Why should expats moan about French inheritance laws?

4 January 2011

AM I alone in finding the prevailing views of my compatriots on the subject of inheritance law, as expressed in your pages and reflected in your leading article (Connexion, November), breathtaking in their lack of humility?

Imagine the reaction in the UK were a minority immigrant population to object to a fundamental aspect of UK law and to expect that they could have it changed to suit their own preferred system; there would be an outcry led, of course, by the tabloid press.

The Napoleonic code is undoubtedly inconvenient – to say the least – and bewildering at times for those of us familiar with the Anglo-Saxon model; I do not deny that it can and does create a serious dilemma for a number of people, native and immigrant alike.

However, it has been in existence for many years – there is a clue in the name, I think – and nobody moving to France to live can be unaware of it. It may be hard to swallow, but the rules of the club, so to speak, are clear and, if one cannot live by them, one should not join.

The argument that there are French natives who also object to French inheritance laws is spurious; they are born into it and their right to object is based on a sense of national ownership, which is not the case for the immigrant population.

Until the French decide to change their own legal system, we who wish to benefit from the many advantages of life in France are bound to weigh the pros and cons. This, I believe, is what we would reasonably expect of immigrants in the UK. Those for whom the issue of inheritance is insurmountable have, sadly, only one clear alternative, which is to find a country with laws offering what they seek.


IF A majority, or even a vocal minority, of our French hosts find their laws oppressive or unsatisfactory, it is for them to raise the issues with their elected representatives and to seek to change them. This is called democracy.

We, as guests in the country, should not seek to interfere, otherwise we will be made unwelcome, and the innocent will suffer the backlash along with the guilty.

Plöerdut (Morbihan)

I WAS intrigued to read that there is an outpouring of anger from British expats over the French inheritance laws.

When are these expats going to agitate about other aspects of French life that are illogical, unfair and, let’s be honest, un-British?

A few things that spring to mind are: the lack of customer service, the near-impossibility of starting up a small business, the 35-hour week, the two-hour lunch break, the dangerous driving habits, the near-fraudulent banking system, the almost-universal evasion of tax; not to mention dogs (if you can call them that) in restaurants, health charges, motorway tolls and just-so-slightly
disguised xenophobia. You get the point. And I consider myself a Francophile.

Nicholas NORWELL
by email

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