A2.315 Article 1 of the First Protocol—right to protection of property
Article 1 of the First Protocol states that:
'Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.
The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a state to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.'
The term 'possessions' has been given a broad interpretation. It encompasses all identifiable legal rights, and thus both tangible and intangible property (including goodwill1). In general, the right to a tax refund is a possession. In Dangeville2, the company lodged two appeals to recover VAT paid in error. The ECtHR held that these gave rise to valid claims against the state, and that, as a claim of that nature constituted an asset, it therefore amounted to a 'possession'. 'Persons' under Article 1 includes companies and all other legal entities3. As a general rule, shareholders of a company are not able to claim in respect of interference to the possessions of the company4.
The Article can be divided into four separate rules5:
(1) All persons are entitled to peaceful enjoyment of their possessions
However, the state retains the power to:
(2) deprive individuals of their possessions,