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‘Rightful owner’ of Chateau Badette awarded E2.75 million

The European Court has awarded €2.75m in damages to the plaintiff in the long-running dispute over a St Emilion chateau.

The plaintiff, Christian Pascaud (pictured), will be paid the money by the French government, which had earlier dismissed his rights to the estate due to a technicality over his illegitimacy.

The dispute centred on Chateau Badette, an 8ha Saint Emilion Grand Cru in the commune of Saint Christophe de Bardes.

It was first put up for sale at auction in 2008 by the town of Saint Emilion, and finally sold in March 2012 for €4.77m to Jean-Francois Janoueix.

The chateau had been bequeathed to St Emilion in 1998 by William Arreaud, in return for his being able to live in the estate until his death, with its upkeep being taken care of by the city. But Arreaud’s illegitimate son, Christian Pascaud, challenged the ruling after his father’s death in 2002.

Two French courts in 2004 and 2006 overturned Pascaud’s claim, despite DNA evidence showing parentage, because under French law paternity can be claimed up to 10 years after a claimant turns 18. Pascaud was born in 1960.

A ruling in July 2011 by the European Court found these two French rulings were in contravention of Pascaud’s ‘right to respect of private life and family’, under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

This month, the 5th section of the European Court met in Strasbourg to set compensation and damages in the ‘Pascaud versus France’ case. Its €2.75m ruling was published on 8 November.

Pascaud’s lawyer Bertrand Favreau told local newspapers ‘the case should never have reached the European courts.’

The French government now has three months to pay, or to make a final challenge to the ruling in front of the European Court’s grand chamber.

Despite the ruling, Decanter.com understands that the 2012 sale of the estate will stand.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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