Key facts of the case:
In this case, shareholders, owners of forest (the Applicant, a “Land community B. u. H.”) that is located in a natural protected area are limited in use of their property rights. Therefore they applied for a financial compensation to the regional Environmental office in Prešov (the Defendant), based on the right that in cases when property is located in a protected area, and if there is any limitation of the property rights, or activities beyond the normal management, the state has to pay resulting injury or incurred extraordinary expenses. The Defendant, Regional Environmental Office, in an original decision, however, did not grant the Applicant financial compensation for the use of its forest. The final results of the case cannot be provided since the procedure is still pending and no further details can be found in publically available decisions.
The Regional Court made reference on the Right to Property as enshrined in Article 17 of Charter, as it is quoted in the Supreme Court decision:
The Regional Court justified the annulment of the Defendants decision concluding that the defendant (for the application of Act no. 534/2002 Coll.) did not assess whether it is in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Article 17, point 1.1 and Article 1 of the Additional Protocol (correctly Article 17 of the Additional Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) and did not assess the case legally correct, and consequently the decision is unreviewable due to inappropriate reasoning.” The Defendant´s opinion was paraphrased by the Supreme Court as follows: “Quoting Article 17 point 1.1.(?) of Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and Article 1 of the Additional Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Defendant pointed out that the Applicant was not deprived of property and deprivation of property is applicable only in cases and under the conditions provided for by law and after the payment of a fair compensation. Since the property of the Applicant is in a protected area and also in the protected forests, use of its property is regulated in accordance with the general interest and under Article 20. 3 of the Constitution of the Slovak Republic (hereinafter referred to as "the Constitution").
With reference to the principle of the primacy of international law before national legislation under Art 7.5 of the Constitution, the Defendant believes that the above-mentioned articles of the Charter and the Additional Protocol to the Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms on which the defendant relies, do not provide clear and specific details in what cases and under what conditions it is possible to apply and at the same time to confer entitlement to compensation for the limitation of the “normal management” in protected areas, and therefore for any claim for compensation due to limitations in the management of protected areas it is necessary to use the relevant national law applicable in the Slovak Republic, in this particular case it is Act No. 543/2002 Coll., focusing on Article 61 par. 8 letter i) of the law effective at the time of application.
The Supreme Court concluded:
Due to procedural character of a legal errors of the legal proceedings, for which the decision was annulled, the Court of Appeal in the present stage of the proceedings did not further address a merits of the case, moreover, draws attention of the Regional Court to the fact, that the Additional Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is the Council of Europe document, and it is not integrated into the EU Law, while the Charter of Fundamental rights of the European Union (2007/ C 303/01) is a document of the European Union and even Article 17 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union corresponds to Article 1 the Additional Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, they may not be equated or mistaken and it is not possible to include the Additional Protocol under the Community law, as it appears to be from the judgment (of a Regional Court in Prešov). Also, if the procedure continues, the District Court will be obliged to deal properly with the objections raised by the Defendant in the appeal.