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CJEU Case C-391/09 / Judgment

Malgožata Runevič-Vardyn, Łukasz Paweł Wardyn v Vilniaus miesto savivaldybės administracija, Lietuvos Respublikos teisingumo ministerija, Valstybinė lietuvių kalbos komisija, Vilniaus miesto savivaldybės administracijos Teisės departamento Civilinės metrikacijos skyrius

Deciding Body type:
Court of Justice of the European Union
Deciding Body:
Court (Second Chamber)
Type:
Decision
Decision date:
12/05/2011
Key facts of the case:
 
Reference for a preliminary ruling: Vilniaus miesto 1 apylinkės teismas - Lithuania.
Citizenship of the Union - Freedom to move and reside in the Member States - Principle of non-discrimination on grounds of nationality - Articles 18 TFEU and 21 TFEU - Principle of equal treatment of persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin - Directive 2000/43/EC - National rules requiring that the surnames and forenames of natural persons must be entered on certificates of civil status in a form which complies with the rules governing the spelling of the official national language.
 
Outcome of the case:
 

On those grounds, the Court (Second Chamber) hereby rules:

1. National rules which provide that a person’s surnames and forenames may be entered on the certificates of civil status of that State only in a form which complies with the rules governing the spelling of the official national language relate to a situation which does not come within the scope of Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin;

2. Article 21 TFEU must be interpreted as:

– not precluding the competent authorities of a Member State from refusing, pursuant to national rules which provide that a person’s surnames and forenames may be entered on the certificates of civil status of that State only in a form which complies with the rules governing the spelling of the official national language, to amend, on the birth certificate and marriage certificate of one of its nationals, the surname and forename of that person in accordance with the spelling rules of another Member State; 

– not precluding the competent authorities of a Member State from refusing, in circumstances such as those at issue in the main proceedings and pursuant to those same rules, to amend the joint surname of a married couple who are citizens of the Union, as it appears on the certificates of civil status issued by the Member State of origin of one of those citizens, in a form which complies with the spelling rules of that latter State, on condition that that refusal does not give rise, for those Union citizens, to serious inconvenience at administrative, professional and private levels, this being a matter which it is for the national court to decide. If that proves to be the case, it is also for that court to determine whether the refusal to make the amendment is necessary for the protection of the interests which the national rules are designed to secure and is proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued;

– not precluding the competent authorities of a Member State from refusing, in circumstances such as those at issue in the main proceedings and pursuant to those same rules, to amend the marriage certificate of a citizen of the Union who is a national of another Member State in such a way that the forenames of that citizen are entered on that certificate with diacritical marks as they were entered on the certificates of civil status issued by his Member State of origin and in a form which complies with the rules governing the spelling of the official national language of that latter State.