European Civil Law

Common principles and regulations which governs the choice of law in the European Union

Warning: a European civil code is not yet a reality; however, while that does not happen, we expose a set of rules within the European Union to govern choice of law in civil and commercial matters

Property Law

Right to property

1. Everyone has the right to own, use, dispose of and bequeath his or her lawfully acquired possessions. No one may be deprived of his or her possessions, except in the public interest and in the cases and under the conditions provided for by law, subject to fair compensation being paid in good time for their loss. The use of property may be regulated by law in so far as is necessary for the general interest. 

2. Intellectual property shall be protected.

(This right is enshrined in article 17 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights)

This Article is based on Article 1 of the Protocol to the ECHR: "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.

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." This is a fundamental right common to all national constitutions. It has been recognised on numerous occasions by the case law of the Court of Justice, initially in the Hauer judgment (13 December 1979, ECR [1979] 3727). The wording has been updated but, in accordance with Article 52(3), the meaning and scope of the right are the same as those of the right guaranteed by the ECHR and the limitations may not exceed those provided for there.

Protection of intellectual property, one aspect of the right of property, is explicitly mentioned in paragraph 2 because of its growing importance and Community secondary legislation. Intellectual property covers not only literary and artistic property but also patent and trademark rights and associated rights. The guarantees laid down in paragraph 1 shall apply as appropriate to intellectual property.

Source: Official Journal of the European Union C 303/17 - 14.12.2007

Preamble - Explanations relating to the Charter of Fundamental Rights:
These explanations were originally prepared under the authority of the Praesidium of the Convention which drafted the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Although they do not as such have the status of law, they are a valuable tool of interpretation intended to clarify the provisions of the Charter.