Scordino v. Italy (No. 1)
European Court of Human Rights
App. No. 36813/97, 2006-V Eur. Ct. H.R. (2006)
Giovanni, Giuliana, Elena, and Maria Scordino (the applicants) (plaintiffs) owned agricultural land that Italy (defendant) took to use for housing in 1983. Initially, Italy offered far less in compensation than the property’s market value, and the resulting disagreement over recompense lasted for decades. At the time of the taking, the estimated market value of the land was 165,755 Italian lire per square meter. However, Italy’s final offer was only 82,890 Italian lire per square meter. The applicants filed an application with the European Commission on Human Rights, which was transmitted to the European Court of Human Rights (the court), alleging a violation of the Scordinos’ property rights under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The article recognized a right to the peaceful enjoyment of property and provided that individuals should not be deprived of property unless permitted by law for the public interest. The article also provided that states had the right to enforce necessary laws to govern how property was used in the public interest or to collect taxes or other penalties. The court made a finding that a deprivation of property had occurred, which Italy did not dispute. Nevertheless, the taking was also determined to be lawful and not arbitrary. In such cases, the failure to provide a property owner with the full market value in compensation was not necessarily wrong. The question presented in cases in which a taking was lawful was whether the property owner was forced to bear an excessive burden that was disproportionate to and not justified by a state’s legitimate goals pursuant to the public interest.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
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