James v United Kingdom
|James v United Kingdom|
Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster
|Court||European Court of Human Rights|
|Citation(s)|| ECHR 2, (1986) 8 EHRR 123|
|Land, compulsory purchase, right to buy|
Trustees of a substantial estate under the will of Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, including Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, argued they and had been deprived of their ownership of a number of properties that contravened their human right to property under ECHR Protocol 1, article 1. Tenants had exercised statutory right to buy their property, which was formerly part of Grosvenor's estates in Mayfair and Belgravia in London. The exercise by tenants of those properties of rights of acquisition was conferred by the Leasehold Reform Act 1967.
The European Court of Human Rights held the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 did not breach the Convention since the Act is within the limits that a national legislature has in implementing social policies.
|“||40. The Court agrees with the applicants that a deprivation of property effected for no reason other than to confer a private benefit on a private party cannot be "in the public interest". Nonetheless, the compulsory transfer of property from one individual to another may, depending upon the circumstances, constitute a legitimate means for promoting the public interest. In this connection, even where the texts in force employ expressions like "for the public use", no common principle can be identified in the constitutions, legislation and case-law of the Contracting States that would warrant understanding the notion of public interest as outlawing compulsory transfer between private parties. The same may be said of certain other democratic countries; thus, the applicants and the Government cited in argument a judgment of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, which concerned State legislation in Hawaii compulsorily transferring title in real property from lessors to lessees in order to reduce the concentration of land ownership (Hawaii Housing Authority v Midkiff 104 S.Ct.2321 ).
41. Neither can it be read into the English expression "in the public interest" that the transferred property should be put into use for the general public or that the community generally, or even a substantial proportion of it, should directly benefit from the taking. The taking of property in pursuance of a policy calculated to enhance social justice within the community can properly be described as being "in the public interest". In particular, the fairness of a system of law governing the contractual or property rights of private parties is a matter of public concern and therefore legislative measures intended to bring about such fairness are capable of being "in the public interest", even if they involve the compulsory transfer of property from one individual to another.
45. ...a taking of property effected in pursuance of legitimate social, economic or other policies may be in the public interest, even if the community at large has no direct use or enjoyment of the property taken.