APPLICATION/REQUÊTE N" 12849/87 Astrid VERMEIRE v/BELGIUM Astrid VERMEIRE c/BELGIQU E DECISION of 8 November 1988 on the admissibility of the application DÉCISION du 8 novembre 1988 sur la recevabilité de la requête Article 8, paragraph 1 of the Convention : " Family life " includes the lies between near relatives, for instance those between grandparents and grandchildren . "Respect" for family lite implies an obligation on the State ta art in a marner caleulated ta allow these tics ta develop normally. Article 14 of the Convention , in conjonction withe Article 8 of the Convention : Difference in treamtent to the détriment of children Born oui of wedlock with regard ta the right Io inheritfrom their grandparents . Question of the non-retroactive effect of the Belgian lux, of 31 March 1987 giving effect ta the Marckx judgmem . Article 8, paragraphe 1, de la Convention : La vie «familiale» englobe les rapports entre proches parents, par exemple entre grands-parents et petits-enfants . Le ,»respect» de la vie familiale implique pour l'Etat l'obligation d'agir de manière à permettre le développement normal de ces rapports . Article 14 de la Convention, combiné avec l'article 8 de la Conven tion : Différence de traitement au détriment des enfants nés hors mariage quant au droit de succéder a leurs grands-parents. Question de la non-rétroactivité de la loi belge du 31 mars 1987 donnant suite à l'arrêt Marckx (Grief déclaré recevable) . 136 (TRANSLATION) THE FACTS The tacts of the case, as presented by the parties, may be summarised as follows. The applicant is a Belgian national, born in 1938 ai Brye (Belgium), and is residen( in Brussels. Beforc the Commission shc is represented hy Mr . Kris Van Hoecke, a lawyer practising in Ghent . The application concerns the applicant's rights of succession in the estates of her natural grandparents, the late Camille Vermeire and his wife, the lare Irma Vermeire face Van den Berghe) . The applicant considers that she fins been a victim of a violation of Article 8 in conjonction with Article 14 of the Convention, in view of the effects of illegitimacy, under Belgian law, on the illegitimate child's daims on the estates of its grandparents . Camille Vermeire and Irma Van den Berghe were married at Lissewege on 19 September 1911 . The three children of this marnage have since died . The applicant is the recognised illegitimate daughter of one of these children, the lace Jérôme Vermeire, who died in 1939, and is thus the illegitimate grandchild of Camille and Irma Vermeire . Irma Vermeire died on 16 January 1975 and Camille Vermeire on 22 July 1980 . The couple had made no provision for the transfer of their estates, which were divided between their legitimate grandchildren, Francine Vermeire and Michel Vermeire . The applicant was cxcluded under the former Article 756 of the Belgian Civil Code, which provided that recognised illegitimate children had no claini on the property of their father's and mother's relatives . The applicant was brought up hy her natural grandparents following the death of her father in September 1939 while performing military service during the mobilisation . On 10 Junc 1981 the applicant brought légal procccdings against the Icgitimatc grandchildren before the Brussels Court of First Instance . By a judgment of 3 June 1983 the Court Pound for the applicant . Il recognised her rights of succession in her grandparents' estates, ruling that no distinction could bc drawn betwcen legitimate and illegitimate children . It based this decision on the Marckxjudgment, in which the European Court had found that the fact that the applicant, an illegitimate daughter, had been denied any daim on the estates of her mother's close relatives constituted a violation of Article 8 para . I in conjonctio n 150 with Article 14 of the Convention (Eur . Court H .R., Marckx judgment of 13 June 1979, Series A no . 31, p. 26 para . 59). On 21 June 1983 the legitimate grandchildren appealed against this judgment . On 23 May 1985 the Brussels Court of Appeal set aside the judgment of 3 June 1983. It held that "in order fora rule of an international agreement te be considered directly applicable, one condition is that il should be sufficiently precise and comprehensive" . It fourni that, in view of the interpretation given to il by the Marckx judgment, Article 8 of the Convention, white imposing sufficiently precise negative obligations on the State authorities, was insufficiently precise in its positive requirements, since it left tu the State authorities a choice of meurs for the fulfilment of their obligations (ibid., p. 15, para . 31) . The Court concluded that the Marckx judgment hart only the value of a legal precedent, and that the interpretation given by the European Court did not have legally binding force . By ajudgment of 12 February 1987 the Court of Cassation dismissed the applicant's appcal, on the grounds chat Article 8 was insufficiently precise and comprehensive to be considered directly applicable as regards the positive obligations it imposed on the State, and that the incompatibility of Belgian legislation with the Convention resulted from a change in the interpretation of Article 8 which could net bc taken into considcration. COMPLAINTS l'he applicant complairas that the rejeetion of her claim on her grandparents' estates on grounds of illegitimacy violaces Article 8 in conjonction with Article 14 of the Convention . She maintains that the provisions of the Belgian Civil Code which were applied in this case constitute a discriminatory interference in her exercice of the right to respect for her private and family life, since estates should be distributed without any distinction on the grounds of birth . The applicant further complains of a violation of Article 46 of the Convention on the grounds that, although Belgium bas made the declaration provided for therein, it did taise accourt of the judgment of the European Court in the Marckx case . She relies in particular on paragraph 58 of the said judgment which sets out the future obligations for Belgium resulting from it . The applicant maintains that the Belgian Court denied the existence of the Convention by applying it in a manner which was not in accordante with the interpretation given in the Marckx judgment . 151 PROCEEDINGS The application was introduced on 1 April 1987 and registered on 3 April 1987 . On 7 October 1987 the Commission decided to give notice of the application to the Belgian Government in application of Rule 42 para . 2 (h) of ils Rules of Procedure. and to invite the Government to submit their writlen observations on the admissibility and merits of the application. The Government submitted their observations on the admissibility and merits of the application on 28 March 1988, and the applicant's observations in reply rcached the Commission on 28 April 1988 . On 9 July 1988 the Commission decided tu invite the parties to present oral observations ai a hearing in the presence of both parties on the admissibility and merits of the application . The hcaring Look place on 8 November 1988 . The parties appeared as follows : For the Govermnenr Mrs. Michèle AKEP, as Deputy Agent for the Governnient Mr . Gilbert KERSCHEN, a lawyer practising in Brussels, as Adviser For the applicml t Mr. Kris VAN HOECKE, a lawyer practising in Gîtent The applicant and her husband, Mr . Stanley Henneuse, were present at the hearing . SUBMISSIONS OF THE PARTIES The Governmen t The conditions of Article 26 of the Convention have been observed in this case . However, the application is manifestly ill-founded under Article 27 para. 2 of the Convention. The Government recall first of all that new legislation, adopted on 31 March 1987, fundamentally altered the earlier legal provisions concerning descent and gave full legal recognition In cyuality between legitimate and illegitimate children , 152 particularly in matters of succession (Articles 66-74 of the Act of 31 March 1987 repealing Article 756-766 of the Belgian Civil Code) . After examining briefly the effects of judgments of the European Court of Humas Rights and the scope of the Marckx judgment, the Government place particular weight on the question of the compatibility of the earlier legislation with Articles 8 and 14 of the Convention, and of the retroactive effect of the Act of 31 March 1987 in matters of succession . a. Effects of judgments of the European Court of Human Right s This question is governed by Articles 50-54 of the Convention . If is generally accepted that the obligation of the State is one as to the result, in other words the State is merely required to ensure that a certain result is attained and is free to choose the means by which the result is tu be obtained . The Court itself bas in several of its judgments considered that the respondent State should be left the choice of means to be used in its legal system to fulfil its obligation to cxecute a judgment . "Chus in the Marckx case, the Court considered that its decision "canari of itself annul or repeal these provisions : the Court'sjudgment is essentially declaratory and leaves to the State the choice of the means tu be utilised in its domestic legal system for performance of its obligation under Article 53" (Marckx judgment, lue. rit ., p. 25 para . 58 : Eur . Court H .R ., Campbell and Cosans judgment of 22 March 1983 . Series A no . 60, p . 9, para. 16 ; Eur . Court H .R. . Guincho judgment of 10 July 1984 . Series A no . 81, p. 15, para . 35 et seq.). h . Effects of the Marckx judgment. In the applicant's view the obligation on the Belgian Government arises net only from the legislator's failure to act but also from the refusai of the Belgian courts to recognise the direct effect of the Convention . This refusa) becomes apparent in the applicant's case . Whereas before the court of ftrst instance site won her case because it was found "that the plaintiff is the heir of her grandparents and may make a claim on their estate as if site had the status of a legitimate child", neither the Court of Appeal nor the Court of Cassation felt they could decline to apply the rules of the Civil Code which pre-dated the 1987 Act . If should be noted that the Court of Appeal refused to comply with the detailed interpretation placed on Article 8 of the Convention in the Marckx judgment : "it is not possible to conclude from this provision (concerning the right to respect for private and family lite) that illegitimate children have a claim on the estate of their father's relatives" . Moreover, "contrary to the opinion of the Court below . Belgian courts 153 arc not legally bound tu act in conformity with the interpretation of provisions of the Convention given in a judgment of the European Cou rt in another case" . The Marckx judgment , the Court held, has only the value of "a legal precedent " and the findings contained in Chat decision concerning an illegitimate child's claim on the estates of relatives of a parent by whom if has been legally recognised are net directly applicable in the Belgian domestic legal system . The Court of Cassation upheld its own case-law according to which "in carder tri be considered directly applicable , a rule of an international agreement must be sufficiently precise and compréhensive : in so far as Article 8 of the Convention imposes upon the Belgian State a positive obligation to create a legal status Ifor illegitimate children) in conformity with the principles stated in that provision, il is no( sufficiently precise and comprehensive to have direct effect ; moreover, il was lawfully found in the IMarckxl judgment that Articles 8 and 14 of the Convention . . . . . . do not invalidate A rticle 756 of the Civil Code, under which illegitimate children have no claim on the estates of their father 's or mother's relatives" . This case clearly showed up the difference in interpretation reflecting the divisions which arose in Belgian case-law immediately following the Marckx judgment . Whereas many "lowcr" courts concluded from this judgment that they could no longer apply rules of the Civil Code which had been judged incompatible with Articles of the Convention , since a violation of these Articles had been found in the Marckx judgment , the Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation refused to recognise the direct effect of those Articles or to accept the - evolutionary" interpretation proposcd in the Marckx judgment . In spite of these differences of opinion , the view seems Io have prevailed among legal writers Chat the législature is the sole authori ty empowered to draw conclusions resulting from the interpretation given to the Convention by the European Cou rt of Human Rights , and tu make the changes to the status of children born out of wedlock required to put an end to any discrimination . In order to comply with the judgments of the European Court, the Belgian State should have amended its Iegislation , partieularly in regard to illegitimate children's clainis on the estates of their close relations . However, rince this is an obligation which results from the detailed interpretation placed on A rticle 8 of the Convention lby the Marckx judgntentl , the question inevitably arises as to the date on which this interpretation is held to have been placed on Article 8 and consequentty when the obligation came into bcing for the State to bring ils legislation into fine with the Convention . The European Court concedes Chat this interpretation of the Convention has not always prevailed, and Chat il needs to be interpreted " in the light of presentday conditions ", Chat evolution towards equality has progressed slowly and chat differences between the treatment of illegitimate and legitimate children , for example in the field of patrimonial rights, were formerly considered permissible and normal . 154 li is therefore necessary to consider at what date the law needed to be amended, and since it was impossible to amend the law as souri as the new interpretation of the Convention was known, what were its estent and effects in finie . On this point the European Court only gave vague indications in the Marckx judgment, stating that "the principle of legal certainty . . . . . dispenses the Belgian State from re-opening legal aces or situations that antedate the delivery of the present judgment" . In any case, whatever the effects crier taire of changes in legislation, the applicant is incorrect in lier assertion that Belgium is responsible in international law not only for the absence of legislation in conformity with the provisions of the Convention but also for the application of the Convention by its courts . The dispute, recalled above, as to the direct effects of the Marckx judgment, bas shown sufficiently clearly why the Belgian legal authorities were neither required to conform tu this interpretation, in a particular case, of the wording of the Convention, noir dispensed from applying existing laws on the grounds that they had been tacitly repealed . In his study on the direct applieability of Article 8 of the Convention on Humait Rights, as interpreted in the Marckx judgment, Professor Rigaux insisted that it was impossible to regard as directly effective a rule whose scope had evolved since the Convention's entry into force . Moreover, despite what might be thought . the judgment itself does not state that the Court regards its new interpretation of A rticle 8 of the Convention as directly applicable . Its wording is perfectly compatible with the idea that the Belgian State will implement the Court's decision by a legislative reform, with retroactive effect if necessary (Annales de droit 1979, p . 376 et seq., esp . p. 380) . c. Compatibility of the earlier legislation with Articles 8 and 14 of the Convention . The Government refer to the Marckx judgment and merely draw the Commission's attention to the following points : The applicant was recognised by lier father, by a document drawn op by the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths ai Brye on 27 May 1938 . Following her father's death in 1939, she was brought up by her paternal grandparents until her marriage . It may be wondered whether it was really the intention of the grandparents that she should benefit from part of their estate . The applicant's grandfather could, under the law, have ai any time drawn up a will in favour of lits illegitimate granddaughter, which lie did not do . Though the carlicr Article 908 of the Civil Code laid down dont illegitimate children may receive by disposition inter vivos or by will no more than their entitlenient under the title "Inheritance on Intestacy", legal writers have considered tha t 155 "the illegitimate child's incapacity to receive property by disposition extends only to dispositions made by his father or mother . There is no restriction on dispositions in favour of an illegitimate child by ascendants and collaterals" . Without wishing to prejudge the legal solution which might ultimately have been reached if the other two heirs had challenged the lawfulness of such a will before the courts, the applicant's position would have been stronger if she had been able to produce evidence of the express wishes of her grandfather tu support her claims. It is not entirely out of the question that in such a case the other two heirs might have been more willing te accept an amicable distribution . Such a possibility was indeed envisaged by the legislator, since Section 107 of the Act of 31 Match 1987, which raises the problem of non-retroactive effect, nevertheless lays down in its second paragraph that : "However, no action shall lie to challenge the validity of legal acts and distributions made before the entry into force of this Act, under which a child Born out of wedlock is accorded a larger elaim than under the provisions repealed hy this Act ." d. Retroactive effect of the Act of 31 Match 1987 in matters of succession . The Bill amending varions legal provisions relating to descent and adoption was tabled belote the Senate on 15 February 1978, more Chan 15 months before the Marekxjudgment . This Bill aimed te abolish, as far as possible, all existing discrimination between children . In 1978 there was no question of according this equality retroactive effect, at least in the matter of succession . Section 139 of the Bill, in the chapter entitled "Interim and final provisions", states this explicitly : "rights of succession created by this Act or resulting from the new tales on the establishment of descent may not be exercised in respect of estates of persons deceased before this Act entered into force" . This is merely an application of the "principle of legal certainty" recognised in the Marckx judgment . The legislator canner have been unaware of this principle . The judgment of 13 June 1979 gave rise to a great deal of uncertainty by ruling that if "dispenses the Belgian State from re-opening legal acts or situations that antedate the delivery of the present judgment" . Did this mean that the new Act should have retroactive effect, and if so from what date ? This question provoked long debates in Parliament , as may be seen from the varions Official Reports . The Senate's Justice Committee ultimately decided te rule out any question of retroactive effect in matters of succession . 156 These discussions were taken up again during debates in the Chamber of Representatives, before which the bill was tabded in July 1985 . The text adopted by the Chamber (which beeame Article 107 of the bill) upholds the principle that "the provisions of this Act shall apply to children born belote the date of ils entry inio force and stil) alive ut chat date, but shall not give rise to any claim in respect of estates of persons deceased before that date" . Paragraph 2 of that Article is aimed ai confirming the validity of any légal acts and distributions, antedating the entry into force of the new Act, which might have been made disregarding the restrictions which the cartier Act placed on children born outside wedlock . After amendment by the Chamber, the bill was returned to the Senate, and il was in the Senate's Justice Committee chat the mosi recent discussions took place concerning the Act's temporal scolie . The report drawn up for the Senate's Justice Committee by Mis . Staels- Dompas (Senate doc . 338-2 of 25 February 1987, 1986-87 Session) illustrates the legislature's unceriainties faced with the problem of retroactive effect . Although the test transmiued by the Chamber underwent no further amendntents, several niembers of the Senate's Justice Committee expressed the opinion tant, even in the absence of rétroactive effect, the effects of international law "which is directly applicable and founded on the Convention" could not be presented . In conclusion, a majority in both lieuses of Parliament expressed their opposition Io the retroactive effect of the Act for reasons connected mainly with the principle of legal certainty . The conséquences of retroactive législation on succession appeared likely tu lie so farreaching chat they were judged to be unacceptable . The business of redistributing estates, recalculating inheritance rights and re-opening the question of the validity of opérations in which third parties had an interest in cases where inherited property had been sold, and the disturbance caused to families by aclions broughi by new heirs whom they may not even have known existed, ail appeared unacceptable . The "travaux préparatoires" of the Act of 31 Match 1987 reveal the législative body's uncertainties and doubts . It is truc that the législature was faced with a genuine dilemma. However, il seemed chat the practical conséquences of retroactive effect would lie su far-reaching chat, after a great deal of discussion, they were judged to be unacceptable, and the rude followed was chat the effects of législation apply only to the future . The applican t Concerning the admissibidity of the application , the applicant expresses surprise ut the Government's daim Chat the application is manifestly ill-founded and should 157 be declared inadmissible under Article 27 para . 2 of the Convention . The Government cannot deny that the applicant is a victim, in view of the incompatibility of the former legislation with Articles 8 and 14 of the Convention (Marckx judgment, loc. cit .). The least which can be said is that the various points raised in the application deserve a more detailed examination and that they are not prima fade manifestly ill-founded. On the merits, the applicant notes the following : The question whether the former provisions of the Belgian Civil Code concerning the status of illegitimate children are compatible with respect for private and family life within the meaning of Article 8 of the Convention bas already been examined by the European Human Rights Institutions in the Marckx judgment. These provisions were considered incompatible on several points . Articles 756 to 766 of the Belgian Civil Code were repealed by the Act of 31 Match 1987, which was published in the Moniteur Belge of 27 May 1987 and entered into force on 6 June 1987 . Alongside the Civil Code, dating from 1804, and the new Act of 31 March 1987, there also exists the Act of 13 May 1955, which was published in the Moniteur Belge of 19 August 1955 and entered into force on 29 August 1955, ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights . Like the Civil Code, and like the Act of 31 March 1987, the Act of 13 May 1955 forms part of Belgian law and so, as a result, does the Convention itself. The Convention must, therefore, be applied, and where two rules conflict, the following principles must be observed : - a more recent Act takes precedence over an earlier Ac t - the rude that an Act repeals an earlier Act in so far as it contradicts it does not apply where the conflict is between a treaty and an Act ; where there is a conflict between a rule of domestic law and a rule of international law having direct effect in the domestic lcgal system, the rule established by the treaty must prevail ; the pre-emincnce of the treaty rule flows from the very nature of international convention law . This principle may, however, sometimes lead to solutions contrary to the wishes of those who drafted the treaty . For this reason it was required initially that a rule of international law, in order to have direct effect, should be precise and unconditional . Later (precisely in a case concerning "illegitimate" children) a distinction was drawn between negative and positive obligations . This distinction is, however, arbitrary . 158 a. Effects of the judgments of the European Court of Human Right s The Government refer tu A rticles 50 tu 54 of the Convention . They seem, however, tu have overlooked their obligations under Article 46 of the Convention, explicitly relied upon by the applicant, that any High Contracting Party which bas made a declaration to that effect must recognise as compulsory ipso facto and without special agreement the jurisdiction of the Cou rt in ail matters concerning the interpretation and the application of the Convention . Essentially this means that interpretations contained in ajudgment of the Europeau Court of Human Rights have final and binding force . The Court of Cassation accepted this in its judgment of 14 April 1983 (] .T. 1983, p . 607-620) based on the conclusions of the Advocate General , Mr. Velu : "The final and binding nature (autorité de chose interprétée) of interpretations by the European Cou rt cannot therefore be ignored by the national courts of a State without laying chat State open tu the varions legal penalties implied under the system of the Convention, by the undertakings entered into in international law by Contracting States. For these reasons it should in my view be admitted lhat, except where there are new facts or other objective evidence manifestly calling for the European Cou rt's interpretative case-law tu be ove rturned, this case-law has special authority (autorité particulière) and should normally be followed by the national courts ." b. Effects of the Marckx judgmen t The obligations of the Beigian State under international law arise not only from its legislature 's failure tu act, but also from the refusai of its cou rts tu recognise the direct effect of the Convention , The respondent Government have explained in detail the reasons which led the Cou rt of Cassation tu take this decision . It is nevertheless the case that both ibis judicial decision and the legislation it applied constitute a violation of the Convention . It is not a malter of applying a particular interpretation but of applying the rule as such, even if ils scope has been established only by way of interpretatinn . In this case, the applicable ride is that of non-discrimination under Article 14 of the Convention . The scope of this mie includes private and family lite (Article 8). The notion of private and family lite also extends to questions of patrimonial rights, particularly in matters of succession : this is the "new " interpretation of the Marckx judgment . As regards the ride itself, Article 14, there is no new interpretation : the rule remains chat there shail be no discrimination based on birth . c. Compatibility of the earlier legislation with A rticles 8 and 14 of the Conventio n By reference tu the Marckx judgment , the respondent Government cannot deny that the rejection of the applicant 'ss claims on the estates of her grandparents on th e 159 grounds of illegitimacy, in spite of the fact that the succession proceedings had hegun alter the dclivery of the Marekx judgment, infringes Article 8 taken alerte and in conjonction with Article 14 of the Convention . The Government is incorrect in its assertion that Article 107, second paragraph, of the Act of 31 March 1987, was conceived specially with a view to an amicable distribution . lis main purpose was to ensure compliance with judicial decisions which had become final and binding, thereby admitting the direct effect of the Convention. Parliamcnt did not wish to re-open these cases, even though the fax authorities had brought applications to set acide fhese judgnicnts as adversely affecting their interests . d . Retroactive effect of the Act of 31 March 1987 in the field of successio n The respondent Government maintain that the legislature was faced with a genuine dilemma ; it seemed that the practical eonsequences of retroactive effect would be so far-reaching that they were judged Io be unacceptable and the rule followed was that the effects of legislation apply only to the future . The respondent Government therefore implicitly admit that the new legislation, adopted on 31 March 1987 . concerning equality between legitimate and illegitimate descent, and in particular its interim provision Article 107, is incompatible with Article 8 and Article 14 of the Convention, but justify this by reference to the principle of legal certainty . Finally, the applicant gives her own explanation of the origin of the Act of 31 March 1987 . In conclusion il should be noted that a majority in both Houses of Partiraient opposed the retroactive effect of the Act . However, they were wrong to do se, since this meant that the legislalure was failing to meet ail ils obligations under international law . THE LAW The applicant complairas that, as a ehild born out of wedlock, site was denied any rights in the estates of her grandparents . She maintains that the provisions of the Belgian Civil Code which verre applied in her case consume a discriminatory interference in the exercise of her right te respect for her private and family lite contrary to Article 8, in conjunction with Article 14 . of the Convention, since intestate estates should bc distributed without any distinction based on binh . Article 8 of the Convention reads as fbllows : "I . Everyone has the right to respect for hic private and family lite, his home and his correspondence . 2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exorcise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a 160 democratic Society in the interests of national security, public safe ty or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others . " Article 14 of the Convention rends : "The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms sel forth in this Convention shah be secured without discrimination on any ground such as ses, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion , national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or othcr status. " The Commission recalls, in the light of the Court's interpretation of Article 8 in the Marckx case, that "family life", within the meaning of Article 8, includes at least "the tics between near relatives , for instance those between grandparents and grandchildren, since such relatives may play a considerable part in family lite", and that "'respect ' for a family lite so understood implies an obligation for the Siale to act in a manner calculated to allow these tics to develop normally " (Eur. Court H .R., Marckx judgment of 13 June 1979, Series A no . 31, p. 21, para. 45). In that case a violation of Articles 8 and 14 of the Convention was found on the grounds that the applicant had no daim on the estates of her grandparents , in view of the tact thai children born out of wedlock were treated less favourably than "legitimate" children (ibid., para . 59) . By its Resolution DH (88) 3 of 4 March 1988, the Committee of Ministers, alter acting the information provided by the Governmcnt of Belgium about the measures taken in consequence of this judgment (namely the adoption of new provisions on descent repealing Articles 756 tu 766 of the Civil Code which discriminated against children born out of wedlock in the matter of inheritance rights), declared Chat the Government had fulfilled its fonctions trotter Article 54 of the Convention . Concerning the obligations arising for the State in question from Article 53 of the Convention, the Court emphasised that "the principle of legal certainty, which is necessarily inherent in the law of the Convention as in Community law, dispenses the Belgian State from re-opening legal acts or situations that antedate the delivery of the present judgment " (ibid., para. 58) . Concerning the farts of the present case, il should be noted Chat the applicant's grandfather died on 22 July 1980, alter the delivery of the Marckx judgment on 13 Junc 1979, and that the winding up of the estate was finalised belote the entry into force (on 6 June 1987) of the Act of 31 March 1987, amending varions legal provisions concerning descent. As regards the grandmother, il is truc that she died belote the delivery of the Marckx judgment, but the parties have not specified when and in what manner her estate was disposed of. 161 The 1987 Act concerns equality between " legitimate" and "illegitimate" descent, particularly in matters of inheritance rights . The application of this Act, however, is subject to interim provisions ; in particular its Article 107 lays down that "the provisions of this Act shah) apply to children born belote the date of it-s entry into force and stil) alive ai that date, but shall not give rise m any claim in respect of estates of persons deceased belote that date" . The submissions of the respondent Government concern the effects of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and, in parlicular, the Marckx judgment, the compatibility of the earlier legislation with Articles 8 and 14 of the Convention and the retroactive effect of the Act of 31 March 1987 . On the question of the retroactive effect of the Act, the Government have explained ai length the uncertainty and doubts of the legislature . However, the practical consequences of retroactive effect seemed so far-reaching that they were judged unacceptable . The rule which prevailed was therefore that the effects of legislation apply only tu the future . The applicant, on the other hand, submits that the Belgian State's obligations under the Convention arise not only from the legislature's failure to act but also from the refusai of the domestic courts to recognise the direct effects of the Convention, hy reference to the above-mentioned Marckx judgment. The Commission bas carried out a preliminary examination of the submissions of the parties, particularly in the light of the judgment given by the European Court of Human Rights in the Marckx case, referred to above . Ii considers that the application taises serious issues in respect of Article 8 in conjonction with Article 14 of the Convention, which are sufficiently complex Io require an examination of the rueras . fi follows Chat the application cannot be declared manifestly ill-founded under Article 27 para. 2 of the Convention . fi should, therefore be declared admissible, since no other ground for declaring il inadmissible bas been found . For these reasons, the Commission , DECLARES THE APPLICATION ADMISSIBLE without prejudging the merits of the case . 162