Land acquisition powers and land ownership restrictions in European countries: evidence review

The research looks at how countries have changed their land ownership laws and the extent to which that complies with the right to property included in the European Convention on Human Rights.


A1P1 caselaw refers to decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in which the court considers the meaning of Article 1 Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘the right to property’).

A1P1 deprivations is where a person’s right to property is adversely affected by the actions of the state to either change, or not change, laws that affect the rules around ownership of property.

Compulsory purchase is the acquisition of rights over land, or to buy that land outright, without the current owner's consent and in return for compensation. It is usually used for significant public infrastructure projects such as building roads.

ECHR is the European Convention on Human Rights. It was drafted in 1950 by the Council of Europe and entered into force on 3 September 1953.

ECtHR is the European Court of Human Rights. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), based in Strasbourg, France, is an international court of the Council of Europe which interprets the European Convention on Human Rights. The court hears applications alleging that a contracting state has breached one or more of the human rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights or its Additional Protocols (schedules) to which a member state is a party.

European Court of Human Rights violations refers to when the European Court of Human Rights finds that the rights of an individual or groups of individuals protected under the European Convention of Human Rights have been violated (breached) by a state party or public body.

European Convention on Human Rights jurisprudence refers to case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

Expropriation refers to the action by the state or an authority of taking property from its owner for public use or benefit.

HUDOC database refers to the official online repository for the European Court of Human rights. All the European Court of Human Rights judgments and a large selection of decisions, information on communicated cases, advisory opinions, press releases and legal summaries are published there.

Jurisprudence is the body of laws, either made by a parliament or decided by judges, that make up a legal system.

Land acquisition is a process by which the state or an authority can acquire private land through compulsory purchase.

Land concentration refers to very large areas of land in a particular area being owned by a single owner.

Land ownership restrictions refers to regulations that limit the rights to own land.

Public interest tests are a process whereby an assessment is made as to impacts on the public interest of a decision or action. It refers to the wider public good rather than to any particular interest of members of the public.

Ratification is the action of signing or giving formal consent to an agreement, making it officially valid.

SAFER Société d’Aménagement Foncier et d’Etablissement Rural (translated as rural Land Development and Establishment Company) is a system of agricultural land administration introduced by the French Government in the Agricultural Orientation Law 1960 which limits the ability of famers to sell productive land on the open market. A Safer (Société d'aménagement foncier et d'établissement rural) is a public limited company, non-profit (without distribution of profits), with missions of general interest, under the supervision of the Ministries of Agriculture and Finance. The SAFERs cover metropolitan France and 3 overseas departments. Stemming from the agricultural orientation laws of 1960 and 1962, the SAFERs now have more than fifty years of experience in the field. Their actions are dealt with by the courts (regional courts, courts of appeal and Court of Cassation). The Land Development and Rural Settlement Societies (Safer) allow any viable project leader – whether agricultural, artisanal, service, residential or environmental – to settle in rural areas. Projects must be consistent with local policies and respond to the general interest.



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