France - Court of Cassation, Civil Chamber judgment of 20 March 2013

The applicant was born in Madagascar and considered himself a French national, as he held French identity documents. However, his registration of French nationality was refused in 2005. He requested to be recognised as a French national, and submitted a number of arguments, among which his statelessness that would result from the refusal to recognise him as French. The Court dismisses his entitlement to French nationality.

Case name (in original language)
Cour de cassation, civile, Chambre civile 1, 20 mars 2013, 11-25.307 12-17.283
Case number
Date of decision
Court / UN Treaty Body
Court of Cassation, Civil Chamber
Language(s) the decision is available in
Applicant's country of birth
Applicant's country of residence
Relevant Legislative Provisions

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 10 of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness


The applicant was born on 18 July 1935 in Madagascar, and held a certificate of French nationality since 18 December 1969. He applied for nationality by declaration as a son of Méraly X, who have allegedly acquired French nationality on the basis of article 5 of the Decree of 5 November 5 1928 setting the conditions for the enjoyment of civil rights of acquisition, loss and recovery of being French in colonies other than Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion. On 30 May 1980 the Grant Tribunal in Paris declared that the applicant is not a French national. On 10 June 1982 the judge in Nancy issued the applicant a certificate of French nationality on the basis of his birth certificate, and his former certificate of French nationality of 18 December 1969. On 15 July 2004 the applicant signed a declaration of nationality based on him having the status of French national (possession of status) under 21-13 of the Civil Code, but on 1 March 2005 the district court of Saint-Denis de la Réunion refused to register his declaration. The applicant appealed to the authorities to establish that he is French - primarily by descent, and as a secondary argument as a result of the nationality declaration he has submitted. In the context of the latter he disputed the legality of the refusal to register his declaration. Finally, the applicant submitted that denying him French nationality would result in his statelessness, and that therefore he should be recognised as French. 

Decision & Reasoning

The Court dismissed the applicant's claim to French nationality by descent as well as through the declaration. As to the argument related to statelessness, the Court accepted the lower instance’s court reasoning regarding the applicant’s statelessness not being proven: 

"[...] The applicant claims that he would be stateless, and that on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, and of international conventions signed by France on January 12, 1955 and that of 1961, French nationality must be recognised. To support this, the applicant submits a certificate of June 22, 2007 by the vice-president of the Court of First Instance of Tanarive indicating that he does not have the nationality of Madagascar. [...] [The lower instance court correctly found, however, that] this document was issued solely on the basis of the applicant's birth certificate, and merely states that the birth certificate is not a proof of his Madagascar nationality, and therefore this document does not prove his lack of any nationality. Consequently, this does not prove that the applicant is stateless, and therefore his claim to French nationality on this basis should be dismissed." 


The Court rejected the applicant's claim to French nationality.