REALWorld Law

Sale and purchase

Expropriation/compulsory purchase

Is expropriation (compulsory purchase) possible in this country?

Angola

Angola

Coming soon.

Australia

Australia

All levels of government in Australia (local authorities, state and territory governments, and the Commonwealth government) have certain powers of compulsory acquisition where the acquisition of land is necessary for certain public purposes.

Compensation is broadly based on the value of the land acquired. In addition, there are 'other heads of compensation' for which a disaffected landowner can seek compensation in respect of the compulsory acquisition.

Belgium

Belgium

Expropriation of real estate is possible only for reasons of public interest. There are strict criteria that need to be fulfilled in the relevant procedures. There is a 'normal procedure' and an 'urgent procedure' before the civil courts, that is most commonly used), each procedure involves compensation for the owner.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Expropriation can only be carried out where a relevant authority decides that this is necessary for reasons of public interest. In this case compensation must be paid to the owners of the property.

Expropriation is therefore possible, but only in exceptional cases, and only in accordance with the Law on Expropriation.

Canada

Canada

All levels of government in Canada (local authorities, provincial and territorial governments, and the federal government) have certain powers of compulsory acquisition where the acquisition of land is necessary for certain public purposes.

Affected land owners have rights to ensure procedural fairness including the right to notice, appeal and compensation.

China

China

Expropriation is possible in the PRC and is often used. Regulations on the expropriation of and compensation for houses on state-owned land, issued by the State Council in 2011 provide that properties may no longer be expropriated without due process and fair compensation. Violence, coercion and cutting off utilities cannot be used to force homeowners to relocate.

Croatia

Croatia

The county authority for expropriation can order the expropriation of a real estate if it has been established that this is in the interests of the Republic of Croatia. In this case, all rights over the real estate, including ownership and leases, are terminated. Compensation is only paid for property rights, not for contractual rights such as leases.

Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Yes, expropriation is possible in certain specific circumstances. It must be in the public interest and carried out only for certain purposes expressly provided for by law and subject to compensation. Although expropriation is rare in practice, a special type of proceeding for expropriation matters is set out by statute, to protect the owner's interests.

Denmark

Denmark

Yes. Expropriation is possible under Section 73 of the Danish Constitution. Expropriation of property must be in the public interest and full compensation is paid to the owner. Other rules relating to expropriation can be found in other Danish legislation primarily the Danish Expropriation Act.

France

France

Expropriation processes are used to facilitate major public or semi-public development projects. Proceedings can be lengthy but are generally considered to be fair, both in terms of the assessment of what is in the public interest and in terms of the amount paid for expropriated properties.

Germany

Germany

Expropriation is possible but only where specific legislation or an ordinance related to that legislation permits it. Expropriation is only allowed when it is necessary in the public interest. The state must pay compensation to the relevant party.

In Berlin, some political parties are discussing the expropriation of housing space due to constantly rising rents. However, due to constitutional concerns and the recently passed rent cap, expropriation is very unlikely.

Hong Kong, SAR

Hong Kong, SAR

Local authorities and certain other bodies have powers of compulsory purchase where the acquisition of land is necessary for a proposed development. Compensation is available based on the value and possibly the development potential of the land acquired. If the owner carries on a business on the land acquired, compensation for loss of that business may also be awarded.

Procedures for compulsory purchase can be protracted, but most cases are concluded by negotiation between the acquiring authority and the real estate owner.

Owners of more than 90% of the undivided shares in a lot may in some circumstances make an application to the Lands Tribunal for an order to sell all the undivided shares in the lot for the purposes of redevelopment (or, alternatively, the Chief Executive may specify a lower percentage, in any event not lower than 80%). Such an order will be made if redevelopment is justified due to the age or state of repair of the building and the majority of the owners have taken reasonable steps but failed to acquire all of the undivided shares through negotiation on fair and reasonable terms.

If the decision to compulsorily re-acquire is made by the government, effectively there is no possibility of resisting it. It has been held that affected owners do not even have a right to make representations by way of objection to the decision. However, since the decision is a public decision, the affected owners can challenge it by way of judicial review on limited grounds: illegality, procedural impropriety and irrationality. Again, the prospect of success is low.

The government may commence statutory eviction proceedings by serving a clearance notice. There is no obligation on the part of the government to rehouse the affected owners as long as compensation has been awarded in accordance with statutes.

Hungary

Hungary

Yes. The Hungarian State and municipalities can expropriate real estate in certain exceptional circumstances for public purposes laid down by law (eg national defence, energy supply, development of traffic infrastructure, large scale greenfield developments creating a large number of workplaces), subject to providing complete, immediate and unconditional compensation to the owner.

Ireland

Ireland

Compulsory purchase by a public body is possible under Irish legislation. Compensation is payable. In default of agreement between the parties, compensation is assessed by arbitration under the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act 1919, as amended.

The principal rule requires that the assessment of the value of the land is made on the basis of the amount the land might be worth if sold on the open market on the date the landowner is served with notice by the public body requiring the acquisition.

Italy

Italy

Expropriation is possible but only where specific permission is granted in accordance with the law. Moreover, expropriation is only allowed if this is in the public interest and in such cases the state must pay compensation to the parties involved.

Japan

Japan

Yes.  The national and local governments have the right to acquire properties for certain public projects on a compulsory basis pursuant to the Land Expropriation Act and/or other relevant acts.  The owner of the property is entitled to receive certain compensation for the expropriation. 

Netherlands

Netherlands

Yes, Dutch law provides specific public law authorities with the authority to seek to expropriate property if this is in the public interest. Strict criteria must be met before this can be done.

Once the Zoning Ordinance has been finalised (and no further appeals are possible) expropriation begins with an administrative law procedure under which objections and appeals in relation to the private interests of the landowners are possible. This is followed by a civil law procedure where experts are appointed to determine the damages suffered by the owners, tenants and others whose property has been subject to expropriation (based on the 'full compensation' principle).

Also, many leasehold conditions contain a clause stating that the right of leasehold may be terminated on grounds of public interest. Such clauses will often seek to provide for a similar process to public law expropriation proceedings including compensation for damages for the expropriated leaseholder. A recent Supreme Court ruling has stated that these clauses are legally valid.

Nigeria

Nigeria

Only the state (government) can forcibly acquire or expropriate property in Nigeria. Section 28 of the Land Use Act empowers the Governor to compulsorily acquire property where the land is required for overriding public purpose by either the State Government or the Federal Government and compensation is payable to the owner of the land. Where land is acquired by government for overriding public purpose, fair and reasonable replacement costs is payable to the owner as compensation.

The other reason for which property can be expropriated is where the owner of the property is in flagrant breach of the terms or conditions for the grant of the right of occupancy like failure to pay ground rents (land use charges), disregard for town planning and building control regulations and failure to remedy the breach.

Norway

Norway

The authorities, or a private developer with the assistance of the authorities, can expropriate property for the purpose of building roads, schools, transport facilities, playing fields etc although this right is subject to restrictions. A property can only be subject to compulsory purchase after an overall evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages has been carried out by a court of appraisal. The buyer must pay the market value for the expropriated property, as agreed by the same court.

Poland

Poland

Yes, expropriation is possible. It can be done in the public interest when important projects cannot be effected by any other means. This includes the construction of public works (recently many public roads have been built or improved under a Special Road Act), national security considerations or other specific cases of public interest.

The real estate can be expropriated for the benefit of the State Treasury or a community. In all cases, full compensation must be made at market value.

Portugal

Portugal

Due to reasons of public interest, expropriation can occur, but this procedure entitles the former owner of the real estate to receive a compensation from public authorities.

Romania

Romania

Expropriation is possible in Romania if the property is needed for reasons of overriding public interest, at a local or national level. As a principle, expropriation requires that fair and equitable compensation is paid first to the owner of the property (if the parties do not agree on the amount, the courts can decide).

Slovak Republic

Slovak Republic

Yes, expropriation is possible, but only if its goal cannot be achieved by mutual agreement or otherwise. Expropriation is possible only to the extent necessary. The purpose of expropriation must also be one which is specified by law and in the public interest, and the owner must receive adequate compensation.

Circumstances in which expropriation may take place include expropriation for the construction of public works (for example, railways or highways) or for major investments (such as the construction of facilities by foreign investors for which state aid has been approved).

Spain

Spain

Compulsory purchase is possible in Spain and it is regulated by the Spanish Civil Code, the Compulsory Purchase Law (Ley de Expropiación Forzosa) and the Land Act (Ley del Suelo). Property can only be subject to expropriation if justified grounds of public interest apply and owners affected by the compulsory purchase receive compensation.

Sweden

Sweden

Yes, expropriation of real estate is possible with the government's permission. Compensation equal to the property's current market value plus 25 percent is normally payable, however when this is determined, any potential future increase in value due to any proposed development is not taken into consideration.

Thailand

Thailand

Yes. Expropriation is possible in Thailand. Under the Expropriation of Immovable Property Act, subject to certain requirements, governmental entities can expropriate immovable property for the purpose of public utilities, military purposes, agricultural development, or town and country planning. The Act provides the governmental entities with the absolute and unilateral right to exercise this power and the expropriated property owners must comply with any expropriation order. However, the owners will be entitled to receive compensation as provided by the Act.

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi

Within Abu Dhabi and outside the Abu Dhabi Global Market free zone

Yes, the Executive Council can pass a law dealing with any property that it requires to assume ownership of for the purpose of ‘public benefit’. The property should only then be expropriated in return for ‘just compensation’ and in accordance with the provisions of the applicable law passed by the Executive Council.

Within the Abu Dhabi Global Market free zone

Yes, a public authority may acquire real property from a person. If the Abu Dhabi Global Market Regulations do not provide the person with compensation on just terms, then the Court can determine and order the public authority to pay appropriate compensation.

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

Yes, but the Civil Code of the United Arab Emirates (Law No (5) of 1985) provides that it must be for the public benefit and compensation must be paid.

For 'granted' land, ie land in Dubai which has been granted by the Ruler of Dubai to another Emirati citizen or a company wholly owned by Emiratis, the terms of the grant often include a provision that the land can be taken back by the Ruler at any time.

UK - England and Wales UK - England and Wales

UK - England and Wales

Local authorities and certain other bodies have powers of compulsory purchase where the acquisition of land is necessary for a proposed development. Compensation is available based on the value of the land acquired.

Procedures for compulsory purchase can be protracted, but most cases are concluded by negotiation between the acquiring authority and the real estate owner.

UK - Scotland

UK - Scotland

Local authorities and certain other statutory bodies have compulsory purchase powers where the acquisition of land is necessary for public works, for example, road construction. Compensation is payable to the landowner based on the value of the land.

Compulsory purchase of real estate and the negotiation of compensation can be time-consuming. The majority of compensation claims are concluded through negotiation between the acquiring authority and the real estate owner but they can sometimes be determined by the independent Lands Tribunal for Scotland.

Ukraine

Ukraine

Compulsory purchase by the state is possible in the following cases:

  • In the event of natural disasters, accidents, epidemics, outbreaks of disease in animals, military or national emergencies and other emergencies, property may be compulsorily acquired provided that compensation is paid to the owner first.
  • Where the purchase of real estate is required to meet a social need if such need cannot be met using state or municipally owned land, state executive bodies and municipal authorities can decide that property may be compulsorily purchased in accordance with the Law of Ukraine "On the Alienation of Privately-Owned Plots of Land and Other Immovable Property Located Thereon for the Purpose of Public Requirements and Public Need" dated 17 November 2009 No.1559-IV.
  • In the case of historical or cultural sites where the owner has not observed the relevant preservation laws, compulsory purchase can be allowed by a decision of the court.
United States

United States

Yes. The federal and state governments' inherent power to take land for public purposes so long as compensation is paid to the land owner is commonly known as the power of ‘eminent domain’ or ‘condemnation’ in the United States.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

Section 72(2) of the New Constitution of Zimbabwe, 2013 empowers the government to compulsorily acquire land, whereupon the land, right or interest will then be vested in the state with full title. The Constitution further states that no compensation will be paid apart from improvements made to the land and that no person may approach the court for an order for compensation in this regard. Only indigenous Zimbabweans will be entitled to compensation in terms of section 295 of the Constitution These provisions are further entrenched and fully detailed in the Land Acquisition Act [Chapter 20.10].