Church restitution - success at the Constitutional Court
ŠZ Law Office was successful before the Constitutional Court in the significant case, highlighted in the media, of church restitution of ponds in South Bohemia, more specifically in a dispute with the Roman Catholic Parish - Prelature Český Krumlov. The rulings of all courts of a lower instance were overturned in light of the constitutional complaint which we filed and the case was referred back to the court of the first instance for a new hearing. Attorneys Jan Zrzavecký and Michaela Šerá were involved in the case. Our firm has long represented the companies of Rybářství Třeboň in a number of court cases relating to church restitution, which are factually and legally rather complex. These are the types of disputes in which the church seeks determination that property which the client acquired through privatisation in 1992 (land with ponds) is what is known as historical church property that was precluded from privatisation, meaning that the state remained the owner of that property. Winning the dispute is then the condition on which the church can thereafter apply to the Czech Republic to surrender the property as part of church restitution. The courts originally vindicated the church, saying that the restitution of property takes precedence, in spite of the fact that this would cause fresh grievances on the side of the client (the actual taking of property that the client has managed for more than 25 years now in good faith). The award handed down by the Constitutional Court, however, vindicated our argument, that restitution does not take absolute precedence, but that it is always necessary to take all the circumstances of the case into account and that even in these types of disputes is it possible for the ownership right to the concerned property to endure based on the good faith of the client.