n Stellenbosch Law Review = Stellenbosch Regstydskrif - Potential conflict of laws in cross-border successions between South African and Germany




South Africa is an attractive location for a considerable number of German-speaking people. The migration of members of the German community from their home country to South Africa was caused by historical events, such as the First and Second World Wars. Nowadays it is rather due to factors like globalisation and changing life styles. It is estimated that there is a German community in the Western Cape alone of about 300,000 or more.

With immigration people start new lives. Only a small number of them consider the legal implications of building up assets and creating liabilities in a foreign country, especially when it comes to their own estate planning. In most cases they are not aware of the difficulties they have to consider when it comes to the planning of their own estate or, if they fail to do so, the difficulties their beneficiaries will face when it comes to the administration and distribution of these estates.
The objective of the article is to illustrate potential conflicts of law in cross-border successions between Germany and South Africa.
After a short introduction the article starts in part two with a brief description of some central differences in the substantive law of succession in both countries to illustrate the different ways that South African and German law deal with the main issues in the law of succession. The third part focuses on the international jurisdiction in civil proceedings, the fourth part deals with the Private International Law ("PIL") rules of each country. Part five deals with the conflicts which might arise out of the application of the PIL rules of both countries to one estate. The article closes with a discussion on instruments available to minimize potential conflicts in cross-border successions.


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