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Changes to fair compensation laws after families were forced to give up their land

Azas v. Greece  | 2002

Changes to fair compensation laws after families were forced to give up their land

An interference with the right to respect for property must strike a “fair balance” between the demands of the general interest of the community and the requirements of the protection of the individual’s fundamental rights.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, 19 September 2002

Background

Two families owned some land in Thessaloniki. The government took away part of the land, in order to build a new avenue in the town. However, the authorities refused to give the families compensation in line with the value of the land that they had lost. 

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The Strasbourg court ruled that the two families had been forced to give up land, but they were only paid a fraction of the loss that they sustained – without any proper explanation. The court awarded them compensation.

This case was one example of a wider problem. The procedure for valuing expropriated property was not able to establish the true loss experienced by the owner.

Follow-up

The Greek Court of Cassation changed its case-law. It said that courts deciding on compensation for expropriated land should perform an overall assessment of the consequences. This helped the courts to award appropriate compensation.

The Council of Europe continues to monitor a number of issues related to expropriation of property in Greece.