Case 9 - Conditional Contracts of Succession
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 February 2021
In 1930, the noble family Stern regulated the conditions for succession within the family through a succession contract. This contract states that the family property shall always pass to the eldest male successor who is not unequally married or born of an unequal marriage. According to the terms of the contract, a successor is unequally married if he is not married to a woman belonging to another noble family which follows the same religion as the heads of the Stern family. The last head of the family, Lord Stern, died in 2012 and is survived by his four sons. The eldest is in a civil partnership with a man. The second-born is married to a commoner who follows the same religion as the heads of the Stern family. The third-born is married to a woman belonging to a noble family which does not follow this religion. The youngest son is married to a woman belonging to a noble family which follows this religion. The estate executor has now transferred the property to the youngest son. Can the other brothers challenge their exclusion?
Case Reference: BVerfG, 22.03.2004, 1 BvR 2248/01; Egerton v. Brownlow 
4 HLC 1.
The other brothers could challenge their exclusion to a certain extent (provided Lord Stern has executed a will with the same content as the succession contract).
Austrian law is particularly restrictive regarding succession contracts. They can only be concluded between spouses (and registered partners); it is only possible that the spouses appoint each other as their mutual heirs, and the contract can only be effective with regards to three quarters of each spouse's assets. The succession contract in the present case, which provides that the property shall pass to a son, and apparently intends to be binding on future generations as well, would have no effect on Lord Stern's four sons under Austrian law.
- Immoral Contracts in Europe , pp. 505 - 552Publisher: IntersentiaPrint publication year: 2020