The moratorium on land sale and the ECHR practice: Oleksandr Polivodskyy predicts a flood of individual lawsuits

In 2019, Ukrainian courts will have to handle cases based on lawsuits filed by citizens seeking to challenge denials of registration and execution of agricultural land purchase agreements.

This was noted during the panel discussion ‘Land: behind the scenes of the moratorium,’ which was recently held at Ukrainian Crisis Media Centre, by Oleksandr Polivodskyy, Partner of Sofiya Law Firm and Adviser of the World Bank’s “Ukraine Transparent Land Resources Management Support” programme. He predicts that a problem will arise in connection with the application by courts of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the context of land issues.

It should be recalled here that in May 2018 the ECHR issued a judgment in the case of Zelenchuk and Tsytsyura v. Ukraine recognizing the moratorium on land sale as a violation of human rights. Polivodskyy thinks that, following this judgment, in 2019 landowners will receive new opportunities to carry out transactions and enter into land use and purchase agreements.

‘The European Court has noted that Ukrainian laws will have to be amended at a certain point,’ he explained. ‘The situation will obviously remain unchanged this year, but what will happen next year? I know that there will be lawsuits and court cases as land owners will challenge denials of registration and execution of agreements.’

The moratorium issue in the context of constitutional proceedings initiated by MPs was also discussed during the roundtable ‘The constitutional right of ownership to land’ organized by Reanimation Package of Reforms jointly with the ‘Ukraine Transparent Land Resources Management Support’ project and UHHRU.

At this roundtable, Polivodskyy drew attention to the legitimacy aspect of the restriction of landowners’ rights that was raised by the European Court in its judgment. ‘It is not the question of prospective buyers or the prospective market, but of whether the objective of the moratorium matches the employed method. The thing is that citizens are unable to sell their property when they need to do so,’ Polivodskyy noted.

However, contrary to the positive expectations of experts, the Grand Chamber of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine refused to institute proceedings based on the submission made by 69 MPs concerning the constitutionality of clauses 14 and 15 of Section Х “Transitional provisions” of the Land Code of Ukraine.

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