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Immobiliare Saffi v Italy, (22774/93) [1999] ECHR 65, 28 July 1999

Facts: The applicant is an Italian construction company which owned an apartment where the tenant refused to vacate in spite of tan order for possession. The applicant was unable to enforce the order and was not entitled to police assistance. It recovered possession of the apartment only after the death of the tenant.

Complaint: violation of article 6§1 and article 1 because the applicant’s right to the peaceful enjoyment of its possessions had been breached.

Holding: the ECHE found a violation of Article 1 (protection of property) and of Article 6 § 1 (right to a court) of the Convention.  

Reasoning: The applicant had been left in a state of uncertainty as to when it would be able to repossess its apartment since it had had no means of compelling the Government to take into account any particular difficulties it might encounter as a result of the delay in the eviction and no prospect of obtaining compensation. No evidence was showed to prove that the tenant had deserved any special protection. Accordingly, the system of staggering the enforcement of orders for possession had imposed an excessive burden on the applicant company and upset the balance that had to be struck between the protection of the right of property and the requirements of the general interest. Consequently, there had been a violation of Article 1.

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