New Appeal: Can Irish Courts grant a divorce to parties divorced in another Member State?

In this determination, DT v FL, the Supreme Court granted DT leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal on the question: as a matter of EU law, can the Irish courts grant a divorce where the parties have been granted a divorce by a court of another Member State but which is not recognised under Irish law?

 

Background

DT and FL married in ireland in 1980. In 1987 they sold their family home in Ireland and moved to another Member State (MS). In 1992 FL returned to Ireland with her children. DT remained in the other MS. In 1994 a district court of the other MS granted the parties a divorce.

In 2000 FL issued Irish proceedings seeking a decree of judicial separation or a decree of divorce. Both the High Court and the Supreme Court rejected DT’s submission that the Irish courts must recognise the 1994 divorce, T v L [2003] IESC 59.

In 2004 another issue arose during the Irish proceedings wherein DT argued again that the High Court should decline jurisdiction on grounds that the Brussels Convention obliged recognition of the 1994 divorce. Once again both the High Court and the Supreme Court rejected that argument.

When the matter returned to the High Court DT argued that if the Irish courts granted a decree of divorce it would create a judgment and order that would be irreconcilable with an existing judgment by a court of another MS and that such would be impermissible under EU law. The High Court and the Court of Appeal (here) rejected that argument.

DT sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. Granting leave, the Court determined that DT raised an issue of general public importance and certified two questions:

(a) whether the Court of Appeal was correct to hold that the Irish courts could properly, as a matter of European Union law, grant a decree of divorce in all the circumstances of this case; and,

(b) in the event that Mr L succeeds on ground (a), and only in that event, whether the order for costs made by the Court of Appeal should stand.

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