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The Constitutional Court brings a new perspective on the right of way

The January ruling of the Constitutional Court, which sided with the complainants seeking the right to walk and drive on the land on which their cottage stands, marks a historic change. The cottagers have been litigating for ten years over the possibility of establishing an easement. In doing so, they have claimed a violation of their property rights, but have so far found no redress in the courts.

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The complainants purchased a cottage in Železná Ruda, even though they knew that it was on someone else’s land and was being sold without an access road. They subsequently sought to resolve this unpleasant situation by purchasing co-ownership interests in neighbouring land. The situation was complicated in particular by the fact that the land is located in the Šumava Protected Landscape Area and is subject to a ban on motor vehicles. Both the ordinary and appellate courts referred to that fact, as well as to the fact that the cottagers had not attempted to secure access to the property before acquiring it. This, according to the courts, constituted gross negligence on their part. Moreover, the Court of Appeal added that it was not possible for the cottagers, by establishing a right of way, to actually increase the value of their cottage, which they had bought for a lower sum precisely because of the circumstances.

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The complainants failed even in the Supreme Court. Only after the verdict of the Constitutional Court has hope now dawned for them. According to the Court, the acquisition of immovable property without a connection to a public roadcannot be regarded as an act of gross negligence, especially in view of the historical development of the legal regulation of land ownership. On the contrary, it is a very frequent phenomenon in our country when buildings are located on someone else’s land, often with insufficient access.

The Judge-Rapporteur, David Uhlíř, literally said that “in a situation where the State has tolerated the creation of such property conditions for decades, it seems unfair if it now disproportionately denies the owners of properties with inadequate access the protection of their property rights through the establishment of an easement of a necessary road.”

According to the Constitutional Court, a fair balance must be sought in the form of adequate compensation for the establishment of the easement, which the owners of the cottage and the owner of the land have so far been unable to agree on.

The case now returns to the District Court in Klatovy, which will be bound by the opinion of the Constitutional Court.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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