Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is an important addition to the ECHR that addresses the protection of property rights. Article 1 of Protocol 1 sets out the basic principles regarding the protection of property.
Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.
Right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions: Every individual (natural or legal person) has the right to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions. This encompasses the protection of property rights, including both tangible and intangible assets.
Deprivation of possessions: Property can only be taken away or deprived from an individual in certain circumstances, and it must be done in the public interest. Additionally, such deprivation must be subject to the conditions provided by law and must adhere to the general principles of international law.
Protection against arbitrary deprivation: Article 1 of Protocol 1 safeguards individuals against arbitrary or unjust confiscation of their property. It ensures that any deprivation of property is lawful and carried out for a legitimate public purpose.
Limitations in the public interest: While property rights are protected, states have the authority to enforce laws they deem necessary to control property use in accordance with the general interest. This allows states to regulate property ownership and use for the benefit of society, such as for urban planning, environmental protection, or taxation.
Payment of taxes and contributions: The article recognises that states have the right to ensure the payment of taxes, contributions, or penalties through property-related measures.
Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the ECHR is an essential component of human rights law, ensuring the protection of property rights while recognising the legitimate interests of states to regulate property use in the public interest. It helps strike a balance between individual property rights and the broader needs of society.