Disputed property, Church privileges and A1P1 ECHR: Sociedad Anónima del Ucieza

The ECtHR has handed down judgment in Sociedad Anónima del Ucieza v Spain [2016] ECHR (Application No. 38963/08) [In French]. The dispute was over the registration of ownership of a mediaeval church.

Background

In 1978 the applicant company (SAdU) had purchased a plot of land at Ribas de Campos in which the church had formed an enclave and had registered it in the land register. The land had belonged to the former Premonstratensian monastery of Santa Cruz de la Zarza and in December 1994 the Diocese of Palencia registered the same church in the land register in its own name. The entry was made on the basis of a certificate issued by the Diocese itself; and even though SAdU’s name already appeared in the register as the owner of the land in question it was not told in advance about this new entry. Having been informed after the event, SAdU complained to the Diocese, which replied that the property had always belonged to it de facto. Under the Law of 2 September 1841 on the sale of church property, churches and cathedrals and their annexes were excluded from desamortización (sale of church lands).

SAdU failed in the domestic courts in its attempt to cancel the registration of the church and its annexes by the Diocese. The Third Section ECtHR held unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 6 §1 (right to a fair hearing) and, by a majority, that there had been a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property): we noted the judgment of 2014 here.

Just satisfaction

In the latest judgment, the Third Section addressed the question of the application of Article 41 (just satisfaction). It awarded €600,000 for pecuniary damage) and €15,600 for non-pecuniary damage.

Cite this article as: Frank Cranmer, "Disputed property, Church privileges and A1P1 ECHR: Sociedad Anónima del Ucieza" in Law & Religion UK, 20 December 2016, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2016/12/20/disputed-property-church-privileges-and-a1p1-echr-sociedad-anonima-del-ucieza/

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