European Court of Human Rights rules against Germany

Today, the European Court of European Rights held that it was a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights when Germany seized property from its citizens in the east after reunification in 1990. (Via Expatica)

This decision relates to land awarded to east Germans after 1945. A later decision will deal with land seized between 1945 and 1949, before the GDR came into existence and effectively under Soviet control.

In 1992, Germany expropriated the land without compensation. Up to 70,000 former GDR citizens are affected.

Here is a summary; the case itself should be on that site in English and French, but the links aren’t working at the moment. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung has an article (in German), together with a

9 thoughts on “European Court of Human Rights rules against Germany

  1. From a linguistic point of view, it does not look like English was the source-language of the judgment of the ECHR in Strasbourg.

    Like the ECJ in Luxembourg, it is obsessed with the sex-offences vocab of ‘violations’ instead of breaches. Also ‘(re-)assigning’ land is quite muddled and confusing if referring to (re-)conveyances of property, though suggesting re-assignment i.e. change of the land use(r).

    Otherwise, Berlin lawyers may yet win back the hordes of GDR conveyancing-disputes clients who used to queue outside of their offices right after re-unification, but dwindled in subsequent years.

  2. I don’t know about this. Haven’t read it yet. I see the opinion of Judge Cabral Barreto at the end is described as a ‘translation’, so I presume the French and English texts are parallel originals.
    I don’t 100% object to ‘violate’, but I suspect they have a rule as to when they will use ‘violate’ and when ‘infringe’.

    As for the re-assignment, I’d have to read the whole thing. I know that in the GDR land was subject to all kinds of rights of use, sometimes overlapping boundaries, and these people were not exactly owners of the land, or maybe of the land and not the buildings or rights of use on it. So you may be right, if referring to what happened in 1992, but from 1945 – 1990 there will have been alternations between ownership and use that were not conveyances. I say this because I have translated a lot of stuff on this issue.

  3. I think the French is the orig. text. As at EU institutions, French is the main ‘working language’ at the ECHR where, traditionally, only French/Eng./French is tested in competitive trans. exams and, to boot, on candidates I have met who have never studied any law.

    I cringe on spying ECHR judgments that open with with the malodorous title of ‘Chamber(Pot?) Judgment’ – itself ambiguous as implying either a Judgement in Chambers or a Divisional Court ruling.

  4. I agree that chamber judgment sounds odd. I would expect ‘chambers judgment’ for a judgment in chambers, though (does one speak of such a thing?) I see what they mean by chamber: there is a section, and not all the section sit. That happens in the Bundesgerichtshof too: the Senat has more members than sit on one case. Does the ECHR have en banc cases? No, it can’t, because that would mean all the judges of all the sections.

    The case does refer to ‘conveyancing’, but it uses ‘transfer’ as well as assign, and I think ‘transfer’ is better than ‘conveyance’ for registered land, even if not so widely known.

  5. Agree with transfer for regd. land. Certainly, that is also what the doc. regd. at a UK Land Registry is called.

    Hard to pin down the subtle nuances between assign, transfer, AE: ‘turn over’ and convey. The assign end of the scale I reckon is for abstract rights like ‘choses in action’ i.e. a debt of money, copyright and co. shares.

    Convey at the other end of the scale is for tangible property like land, albeit loosely used for rights, whilst the two middle terms can broadly be used for either.

    However, the ProZ.Com website suggestion of ‘assignment’ of co. shares – unless looking at the underlying chose in action or turning the shares over as collateral security (let’s leave the pledge v. charge v. mortgage of shares arguments) – is questionable as a ‘proper instrument of transfer’ is required in Eng. law.

  6. Thanks for your most interesting comments, Margaret and Adrian. Even if I can’t contribute anything useful, I always enjoy your exchanges (and people definitely read your blog, Margaret, even if they don’t write comments :-)


  7. Good to hear about the entertainment value. I just hope the ECHR, though in bilingual French/German Strasbourg, doesn’t start producing German translations of judgments. I cringe at the thought of the opener: Nachttopfurteil.

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