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Cover Human Rights Law Directions

23. Article 1 of the First Protocol: protection of property  

Without assuming prior legal knowledge, books in the Directions series introduce and guide readers through key points of law and legal debate. It discusses European Convention law and relates it to domestic law under the HRA. Questions, discussion points, and thinking points help readers to engage fully with each subject and check their understanding as they progress and knowledge can be tested by self-test questions and exam questions at the chapter end. This chapter discusses Article 1 of the First Protocol. The right to property is controversial. On the one hand, this right can be seen as essential to human flourishing; on the other, property can be seen as representing social and political power, which is distributed unequally. Given the relationship between property and power, it is not surprising that governments have often sought the constitutional freedom to control the production and distribution of wealth in society, which may at times require limiting the right to property. Article 1 of the First Protocol uses terms that seem to accept wide powers of states to control property in the ‘public’ or ‘general’ interest. As discussed in the chapter, the European Court of Human Rights has narrowed this power considerably in the way the Article has been interpreted.