The European Court of Justice, seventh courtroom, on 17 December 2015, judgment number C-605/14, ruled that the dissolution of the co-ownership of a property belongs to the category of litigation “in matters of real estate rights” under the EU Regulation. Therefore the Spanish Courts are responsible for this legal action and not the Courts of Finland.
In this concrete case two Finn citizens were co-owners with other Finns of two properties in Torrevieja, Alicante (Spain) and wanted to dissolve the community between all of them above such properties. Then they brought a claim before the Etelä Savon käräjäoikeus (the first instance court of Savonia in Finland) in order to get the appointment of a lawyer as a trustee for the sale of the properties and the agreement of the price of sale for each one.
The other co-owners refuted the admissibility of the claim alleging that the article 22, point 1, of the UE Regulation number 44/2001 concedes the exclusive competency in matters of real estate rights to the Courts of the member state where the real state is located. Consequently they specified that a possible decision about the matter of the Etelä Savon käräjäoikeus could not be recognized in Spain according to such regulation.
On 9th October 2012, after being considered appropriate for making a decision about the main litigation, the Etelä Savon käräjäoikeus accepted the claim, appointed a trustee, entrusted him to sell the properties in an auction and divide the benefits of the sale between the co-owners and determined the minimum price of sale for them.
The affected co-owners made an appeal against the judgment before the Itä Suomen hovioikeus (court of appeal in Finland).
On 7th May 2013 this court accepted that the claim for dissolution of a co-ownership of a real estate through its sale constitutes an action whose object is a real estate right, according to article 22, point 1 of the UE Regulation number 44/2001. Therefore such Court admitted the competency of the Spanish Courts, annulled the first instance judgment and, consequently, declared the claim as inadmissible.
The Korkein oikeus (supreme court of Finland), which deals with an appeal brought by the claimants, after remembering the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice on this matter, expresses doubts regarding the exclusive competency of the courts of the member state where the real estate is located for this case. This Court decided, consequently, to suspend the proceeding and ask the following question to the Court of Justice:
“Should the article 22, point 1, of the UE Regulation number 44/2001 […] be interpreted in the sense of the fact that the dissolution of the co-ownership of real estates in Spain claimed by one part of the co-owners constitutes an action in matters of the real estate rights included in article 22, point 1?”
The Supreme Court, after many technical and legal considerations that we omit to avoid lengthening too much this article, considers that:
For the previous considerations, the contemplated matter is answered that the article 22, point 1, first paragraph, of the Regulation number 44/2001 must be interpreted in the sense of the fact that an action of co-ownership dissolution of a real state through its sale, entrusted to a trustee, belongs to the category of litigation in matters of real estate rights according to such regulation.