French Pacs still valid in UK after law change?

Will our (mixed-sex) Pacs be recognised by the UK after the recent change in civil partnership law there, meaning it is now open to all couples?

26 February 2020
By Oliver Rowland

New rules allowing mixed-sex couples to form civil partnerships came into force in the UK at the start of this year.

Until then, civil partnerships in the UK had been restricted to same-sex couples.

This meant they were incompatible with mixed-sex French Pacs, which had been open to both same-sex and mixed-sex couples from the start.

People who had a mixed-sex French Pacs found the Pacs had no status under English law.

Matthew Cameron, a partner in law firm Ashtons Legal in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and a specialist in French and English law, said: “The effect of the change is that the rights conferred by the Civil Partnership Act 2004 will be extended to apply to mixed-sex couples in the same manner that they originally applied to same-sex couples.

“The legislation specifically recognises international agreements of a similar nature.

Thus, a couple having completed a Pacte Civil de Solidarité (Pacs) would be recognised in the UK as having completed the equivalent of a civil partnership.

It is important to note that neither a Pacs nor a civil partnership automatically grants any rights of inheritance on the surviving partner. It only allows an exemption to inheritance tax on anything that is inherited.

“The couple should still ensure that their wills are fully up to date, and it may be prudent to consider completing separate wills for each jurisdiction. Specialist advice should be sought.”

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