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Argentine court hands down succession ruling; rules on applicable law

Tuesday, 28 July, 2015

By Javier Canosa TEP, Canosa Abogados

When deciding on the succession of Cesar Joaquin Porto (Porto, Cesar Joaquin s/Sucesion Ab Intestato) on May 10, 2015, Chamber H of the National Civil Appellate Court (hereinafter, the “Appellate Court”) ruled that if the assets of a deceased person were located in different countries, the succession regime applicable where those assets are located should be applied (i.e., the applicable succession law is that of the country where property is situated).

In Porto, the deceased, had his last domicile in New York, US. However, his only heir requested the jurisdiction of the Argentinian courts, as he claimed Porto lived in Argentina – he also highlighted the facts that the deceased had real and personal property in both Argentina and the US. The Appellate Court accepted competence regarding the property situated in Argentina; it found that it did not have competence over the property situated in the US.

The Appellate Court claimed that whenever there is real or personal property in different jurisdictions, there will be as many intestate successions as countries where the deceased owned property – each of these successions will be governed by the law of the country where the property is located.

Pursuant to s3284 of the Argentine Civil Code, the judge of the jurisdiction of the deceased’s last domicile will be the competent judge. However, if there are assets located in Argentina, then the Argentinian courts will have competence – independently of the deceased’s last domicile. The new Civil and Commercial Code, which will enter into force on August 1, codifies the same rule in s2336. With regard to real property located in Argentina, however, s2643 and s2644 of the new Civil and Commercial Code, explicitly establish the competence of the Argentine courts.