Restitution law came into force 30 years ago. Property disputes continue to this day

Illustrative photo: Tama66, Pixabay / CC0

Property restitution became one of the cornerstones of the transformation of the Czech economy after the fall of communism in 1989. The law was intended to right the wrongs committed by the communist regime as far as possible.

The term “restitution“ refers to the return of property nationalized or confiscated between February 25, 1948 and January 1,1990  by the communist regime to former private owners, churches and other institutions.  This includes, for example, real estate confiscated due to emigration or as a result of expropriation without compensation, nationalization contrary to regulations or under a purchase or gift contract concluded under unfavourable conditions. This concerns property not just in state ownership, but also in private ownership, belonging to people who acquired it from the state.

The restitution process often resulted in court disputes that dragged for years. Some of them persist to this day.