Monday, January 13, 2014

Family Pact of the House of Nassau

Last week, we already had a look at the Family Bylaws Concerning the House Law of the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg. The bylaws were the second part of a Grand Ducal Decree published on June 11th, 2012 that changed the old rules of the Family on titles, marriage laws and succession. Today, we provide you with the first part of the decree, the actual house law often also called family pact ("Nassauischer Erbverein") as it originally was a pact between the different branches of the House of Nassau.

[Insert here the usual note of us being no legal scholars etc. and please not to simply copy and paste the following translation all over the internet.]

Grand-Ducal Decree of 11 June 2012 on the coordination of the family pact

We Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Nassau,

due to the fact that the Erbverein between the two main lines of the House of Nassau from 30 June 1789 (Pacte de Famille de la Maison de Nassau du 30 Juin 1783), which is based on Article 3 of the constitution of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg from 17 October 1868, on Article 71 of the treaty of Vienna from 9 June 1815 and Article 1 of the treaty of London from 11 May 1867, does not meet today’s conditions and requirements in many purposes,

We deem it advisable to,
after consideration of the decisions of the members of the Grand Ducal House from 28 October and 25 November 2011,
declare and command the following new version of the Erbverein:

Art. 1. The basic house law of the Grand Ducal House, namely the Nassauischer Erbverein from 30 June 1783, in the following called family pact, remains valid according to the following purposes.

Art. 2. The following purposes contain rulings about:

- the acquisition of property/fortune, alienations and debts, in relation to the entail constitution (Fidei commis) from 18 April 1868 in connection with the by the law of 16 May 1891 established Grand Ducal entail (articles 5 - 15),

- the providence of future deaths including the order of succession, regency or guardianship (articles 24 - 35), and

- the commitment towards the current family pact (article 48).

Art. 3 and 4. (repealed).

Art. 5. Every newly made or future made acquisitions by the head of the house, or other property/fortune which is passed to him (by which every position with economical worth and acknowledgement by law is meant, like estates, chattels, capital investments, usufructs, usages and rights) shall not become part of the Grand Ducal entail as long as the first purchaser is alive and it also shall be up for the first purchaser’s consideration, unless the first purchaser mandates it to become part of the Grand Ducal entail during his lifetime or after his death.

Art. 6. The spouse of the current or future head of the house retains her/his free disposal of every means brought into the marriage, as well as newly made acquisitions or acquisitions made in the future by her/him or properties passed to her/him. 

In case of death, his or her fortune is only subjected to the restrictions of the civil law.

Art. 7, 8 and 9. (repealed).

Art. 10. In view of the current prohibitions mentioned in the house law regarding all alienations, it remains prohibited to sell or alienate current or newly-acquired property/fortune of the Grand Ducal entail.

If nevertheless such alienations took place, no matter under which circumstances, it will not be valid but by virtue of this family pact now and forever invalid and for future heads of the house noncommittally. Rather it should be possible for the next head of the house to take legal proceedings against such alienations as long as they do not have come under the statute of limitations.

Art. 11. The prohibition mentioned in article 10 does not only affect the sell, but also gifts between living people, provision through a last will, burden on an eternal usufruct or another right, but also the dropping of any right, as well as any other way of disposal or alienation.

Art. 12. The head of the house, however, shall not be prevented from alienations out of economical reasons or because of the rights and duties which are incumbent upon him. As a result the following actions cannot be seen as prohibited alienations: exchange or sell of plots of land/properties or property rights as long as equal plots of land/properties or property rights are bought, division of arduous group property, pay-off of long-time duties or services for cash, sell of single or small plots of land/properties, and demolition or alienation of useless or unnecessary buildings. Capital proceeds of the latter two shall be used for new acquisitions, payment of inherited debts and the welfare of the Grand Ducal house.

Art. 13. The dangerous and uncareful making of debts is as prohibited as the prohibited alienations.
It is also prohibited to charge or to pawn the property/fortune of the Grand Ducal entail unless it is urgently needed or there is another proper reason for it. This needs the agreement of the president of the Grand Ducal fortune management. Every contravention is now and forever invalid and for future heads of the house noncommittally as it is the same for the alienations.

Art. 14. To clarify what is meant by dangerous or unjustified debts, that means prohibited debts, and what is meant by honestly made debts and therefore legal debts, and which emergencies are seen as relevant to justify borrowings and therefore the payment of the heir of the head of the house, the following is set up:

1) Debts that are made for the welfare of the Grand Ducal house, to acquire fortune/property, to pay off someone else’s claims or to repay older and higher interest rates,

2) Debts that are made in a time of need to safe the Grand Ducal house or to rebuild a destroyed building which is part of the Grand Ducal entail

are seen as honestly made and therefore as justified debts.

Art. 15. Any other unclassified debts made without need but because of wastefulness and mismanagement or riskiness, have to be seen as unjustified, forbidden debts, for which only the private fortune of the head of the house is liable.

Art. 16 - 23. (repealed).

Art. 24. Following there will be taken precaution for:

1) The order of succession in every possible way, in which the right of the first born child without exception is to be respected,

2) The order of regency or guardianship for under-aged heirs to the throne and other under-aged members of the Grand Ducal House,

3) The authorization of a member of the Grand Ducal House to set up a last will,

4) The maintenance of the widowed (widows and widowers), and

5) The maintenance of the children of the head of the house as well as theirs and other heirs’ compensation.

As far as it concerns the order of succession (no. 1), the right to inherit the throne after the abdication or the death of a reigning Grand Duke has the first child, regardless of gender, of him. This order of succession is applied for the first time to Our descendants.

Art. 25. The head of the house has the possibility to support the people described in article 24 section 1 number 5 for their maintenance, possible marriage, provision and appanage, as well as their descendants and widowed spouses’ maintenance if it is necessary. This support can be adapted, interrupted or cancelled depending on the development of their circumstances.

Art. 26. If the head of the house dies without marital children, his siblings and their descendents inherit the throne and the Grand Ducal entail in order of the firstborn child, as long as they are in the line of succession. If the head of the house has no siblings, this is valid for his next-related house- or family members.

Art. 27 - 31. (repealed).

Art. 32. If the head of the house dies with under-aged children (article 24 section1 number 2) the guardianship and regency is held by the other parent and if both parents die the guardianship and regency is held by the closest family member according to the order of succession.

Art. 33. The regency has to be taken on in the order written in the constitution of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the regent in his function as head of the house has to manage the entail with the help of the president of the Grand Ducal fortune management to the best of his knowledge and belief, independent of the use of article 32.

Art. 34. The right to set up a last will (Article 24 section 1 number 3), in cases of inheritance of newly acquired properties/fortune according to article 5 that does not belong to the Grand Ducal entail, is only subject to the civil law.

Every head of the house has the right to command about a sum, as long as he has no forbidden and dangerously made debts and followed the articles 10 to 15 of this family pact, which is not higher than one third of the value of the entail at the time of his abdication to support his heirs, charity organisations or people who render outstanding service to him. His successor as head of the house has to accept and to pay this.

Art. 35. The maintenance of the widowed of the Grand Ducal House (article 24 section1 number 4) is based upon the requirements of § 5 of the family bylaw of the house law in correspondence with the concluded marriage contracts or whatever promise was made before.

The head of the house can take steps to organise an appropriate house, possibly in form of a usufruct and an appropriate maintenance in the interest of his/her surviving spouse/husband.

Art. 36 - 47. (repealed).

Art. 48. A member of the house, who intentionally acts against requirements of this family pact or other laws and statues of the Grand Ducal House, has to be sued by the head of the house at the family court of arbitration described in the basic house laws.

Art. 49. The current provisions apply except when otherwise stipulated by the constitution of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. 

Documentary Our single-handed signature and affixed seal.

Luxembourg, 11 June 2012               


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