The relationship between international and domestic law in Monaco
International treaties and agreements, which take precedence over domestic laws, even subsequent ones (Court of Revision, judgment of 21 April 1980), occupy second place in the Monegasque legal system after the Constitution of 17 December 1962, amended by Law No. 1.249 of 2 April 2022.
The Principality is a dualist State: in order to enter into force in Monaco, international treaties and agreements signed and ratified are subject to a sovereign ordinance making them enforceable.
Treaties and international agreements which affect the constitutional organisation, or the ratification of which entails the modification of existing legislative provisions, or which entail the Principality's membership of an international organisation whose operation involves the participation of members of the National Council, or the implementation of which has the effect of creating a budgetary charge relating to expenditure whose nature or purpose is not provided for by the budget law, are subject to ratification by Parliament ("Conseil National").
International public law issues are dealt with in Monaco, particularly in the context of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, extradition and international administrative cooperation in tax matters (reservations and scope of application, direct or indirect effect of treaty provisions for private individuals, compliance with the rules of double criminality, the ne bis in idem principle etc.).
International and European law on human rights and fundamental freedoms
Since the Principality joined the Council of Europe on 5 October 2004, it has been possible to invoke the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights in the context of domestic remedies and any person subject to legal proceedings has the right, after exhausting Monegasque remedies, to apply to the European Court of Human Rights (Art. 4 of Protocol No. 15 amending Art. 35 § 1 ECHR, which entered into force on 1 February 2022, reduced the time limit for lodging an application with the Court from 6 to 4 months following the last final domestic decision).
Furthermore, Law No 1.421 of 1 December 2015 instituted an exceptional procedure for reopening a trial in the event that a judgment of the ECHR had found the Monegasque State to be in breach of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights or its additional protocols, not only in criminal and correctional matters, but also in the context of a dispute falling within the jurisdiction of the Monegasque courts in civil matters, as well as the jurisdiction of the Labour Court.
Monegasque law is evolving under the impetus of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the prism of guarantees for the individual. This is the case, for example, in the context of reforms to criminal procedure (most recently, Law No. 1.533 of 9 December 2022 concerning preliminary investigations, home visits, police custody, free hearings, alternative measures to prosecution, Law No. 1.534 of 9 December 2022 concerning the status of assisted witness, the investigation, and the appeal for review in criminal matters) or civil procedure (most recently, Law No. 1.511 of 2 December 2021 with the objective of making justice more readable, accessible and rapid).
The recommendations of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights are also a source of reforms, such as Law No. 1.481 of 17 December 2019 instituting the common life contract ("contrat de vie commune") open to same-sex and non-same-sex couples, and Law No. 1.523 of 16 May 2022 on the promotion and protection of women's rights by amending and repealing obsolete and unequal provisions.
The main treaties concluded by Monaco in this area are the following:
- Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as amended by Protocol Nos. 11 14, 14 bis, 15 and its Additional Protocols Nos. 4, 6, 7, 13;
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966 and its Second Optional Protocol aiming at the abolition of the death penalty;
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 16 December 1966;
- Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989 and Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict of 25 May 2000, Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography;
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 7 March 1966;
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 18 December 1979;
- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 10 December 1984;
- European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as amended by its two Protocols of 26 November 1987.
Monegasque private international law
With the presence of 139 different nationalities in the Principality, relations or disputes between private persons often have an international dimension whatever their nature (civil, commercial, social...), and questions relating to private international law (determination of the applicable law, conflicts of jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments) are frequently raised.
Law No. 1.448 of 28 June 2017 responded to the needs linked to the internationalisation of trade and the diversity of Monaco's residents, by codifying the rules of Monegasque private international law (jurisdiction of Monegasque courts and applicable law in matters of status and capacity of natural persons, marriage, filiation and adoption, maintenance obligations, successions, contractual and non-contractual obligations). The provisions of the Code of Private International Law apply without prejudice to Monaco's international commitments in this area.
The Principality is party to the following eight Hague Conventions:
Monaco is also party to the United Nations Convention of 20 June 1956 on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance, the New York Convention of 10 June 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards and to the European Convention on Information on Foreign Law.
Special rules are applicable with France because of their privileged relationship. The Convention of 21 September 1949 on mutual legal assistance provides for simplified procedures for the enforcement of judgments and arbitration awards in civil and commercial matters, and admits as evidence, without legalisation, copies of civil status and judicial documents, affidavits, notarial deeds, and life certificates for life annuitants (simplified rules for proving their authenticity).
European Union law
Although the Principality of Monaco is not a member of the European Union, some of its rules apply, which requires great vigilance in practice.
Due to the Franco-Monegasque agreements, Monaco is considered as French territory for customs purposes and is therefore part of the customs territory of the Union (Customs Convention of 18 May 1963 between the Government of the Principality of Monaco and the Government of the French Republic, Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 laying down the Union Customs Code), for VAT, transactions originating from or destined for Monaco are treated as transactions originating from or destined for France (Franco-Monegasque Tax Convention of 18 May 1963, Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax), as for excise duties, movements of products subject to excise duty from or to Monaco are treated as movements from or to France (Directive (EU) 2020/262 of 19 December 2019 laying down the general arrangements for excise duty), with the rules of the European Union applying.
Under the Monetary Agreement of 29 November 2011 between Monaco and the European Union, the European Union acts listed in its Annex A (Legislation applicable to the activity and supervision of credit institutions and to the prevention of systemic risks in payment and securities settlement systems) are applicable in the Principality as soon as they are included in French law. Furthermore, the Principality implements legal provisions equivalent to those of the European Union acts which appear in Annex B of the Agreement in terms of prevention of money laundering, fraud and counterfeiting in accordance with international standards (FATF, MONEYVAL),
Furthermore, the Principality implements measures to freeze funds and economic resources and measures of economic restrictions adopted by the European Union.
Community acts in the fields of medicinal products for human and veterinary use, cosmetic products and medical devices also apply to Monaco by virtue of the Agreement of 4 December 2003 with the European Community.
Finally, some EU acts may have an impact because of their extraterritorial scope, such as Regulation (EU) 650/2012 on international successions, and Regulation (EU) 2016/79 on the protection of personal data (GDPR).
International environmental law
In accordance with the tradition of environmental protection desired by the Sovereign Princes, Monaco is party to numerous international conventions in this field, including:
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of 9 May 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol, replaced by the Paris Agreement of 22 April 2016 for the post-2020 period;
- Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat of 2 February 1971 (Ramsar Convention);
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora of 3 March 1973 (CITES), ;
- Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals of 23 June 1979 (CMS);
- Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats of 19 September 1979 (Bern Convention);
- Rio Convention on Biological Diversity of 29 December 1993 (CBD).
The Environmental Code, created by Law No. 1.456 of 12 December 2017, recognises the fundamental general principles of environmental law that result from European and international instruments (right to live in a healthy, balanced environment that respects health and biodiversity, prevention principle, precautionary principle, principle of correction at source, polluter-pays principle, principle of integration in public policies).
Its purpose is to "contribute to the sustainable management of the environment and its protection against all forms of pollution or degradation, to the fight against climate change, to the energy transition, to the preservation of human health and biological diversity, to the safeguarding and enhancement of natural environments and resources, as well as to the maintenance and improvement of living conditions and the living environment of present and future generations" (Article L.100-1).
Monaco is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990, by 55% by 2030 (intermediate) and 80% by 2050 (carbon neutrality).
International sport law
Sport is an economic sector in its own right in Monaco. Numerous international sporting events take place here (Formula 1 and Formula E Grand Prix, Monte Carlo Rally, Herculis International Athletics Meeting and Mare Nostrum Swimming Meeting, Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, Monte-Carlo International Jumping, UEFA Super Cup, etc.).
The Principality is heavily involved in the fight against doping and has signed the Copenhagen Declaration (2003), ratified the Council of Europe Anti-Doping Convention of 16 November 1989 (Sovereign Order No. 16.234 of 27 February 2004), the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport (Sovereign Order No. 959 of 7 February 2007), and applies the World Anti-Doping Code.
Arbitration by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is recognised under Monegasque law.