Some Facts About Property Rights

Property Rights
Property Rights

Some Facts About Property Rights

The right to property often read in conjunction with the right to own property is classified as a human right and laid down in Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However there is no formal recognition of the right to own property in the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In another twist, Protocol 1, Article 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) stipulates that a person can have a right to “peaceful enjoyment of his possessions” so long as the right of statutory authorities to collect taxes is not infringed upon.

All these aspects point to the fact that there is a grey area so far as property rights are concerned. Property rights are a controversial issue both in terms of its definition and stipulations. It is the primary reason why the right to property has different interpretation spanning countries and continents.

Disagreements are based on a number of issues. The first is whether the right to have property is deemed to rest with human beings only as an extension of personal rights or with corporations too. The second is the type of property that needs to be protected. Does it include property that is used for consumption or production or both? Finally, an area under contention is the reasons under which property can be restricted. Examples in this category include specific regulations for purposes of taxation and a property being taken over by the Government in national interest.

In a flip side to all these disputes such explicit or implicit restrictions are negated in Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The clauses here are very clear –

  • Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others
  • No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property

These riders have broad ranging ramifications. If a person goes for property development in Melbourne, Australia or in any other country, he/she will have the absolute right to do so provided clear and marketable title to the property is established in their name. This is subject to all legalities being fulfilled and statutory dues having been paid. However, there might be additional complexities which can be avoided if expert legal opinion is prior obtained from leading property lawyers. P&B Law firm of property lawyers are leaders in this field in Melbourne.

As said before, interpretation and understanding of property rights varies between countries and continents. The case of Europe can be taken up for further study.

Initially, European states failed to enshrine right of protection of property in ECHR but it was later added as Article 1 Protocol 1 as “right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions”. In this specific case this right is defined as follows –

  • “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 and

  • The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.”

Different versions of the understanding of property rights can be seen in countries of Latin America, the Americas and Australia.