British civil partners living in France are now entitled to the same tax and inheritance benefits as their French counterparts.

Since August 2007, French couples in a Pacte Civil de Solidarité (PAC) have enjoyed the same rights in relation to tax and inheritance laws as married couples.

However, due to a legal anomaly, British civil partnerships were not recognised under French law, meaning civil partners living in France were liable for a 60 per cent inheritance tax and were treated like any other unmarried couple.

Ministers recently announced that British civil partnerships are recognised as equal to PACs, and reimbursements will be made to individuals who have made undue tax payments since August 2007.

South West Lib Dem MEP Graham Watson helped secure the changes after two of his former constituents contacted him to complain about the anomaly.

He said: “Up until now, the practicality of French law has meant that British civil partners living in France would have to dissolve their partnership and enter into a PAC in order to secure the same rights as French couples. This violated the idea of European citizenship and equality, and something had to be done.”

“Although it has taken far too long to get to this position, I am pleased that same-sex British couples can now rest assured that they have the same rights as a French couple.”

French PACS are available to both straight and gay couples.

Census results revealed last month that the number of couples taking up PACS has increased by a fifth in the last year, while marriages are down 3.5 per cent.