Constitutional Court Rejects Liechtenstein’s Claim of Restitution Over Property Near Kolin
The Czech Constitutional Court has rejected a claim from the Principality of Liechtenstein in a dispute over property near Kolin, Central Bohemia, said Judge Tomas Lichovnik yesterday.
The Liechtenstein family had extensive holdings in the Czech lands, but lost them in 1945 on the basis of Benes Decrees. Five years ago, the Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation, together with the reigning Prince Hans Adam II, filed a series of lawsuits in Czech courts to establish ownership and regain control of the properties.
The court in Kolin also received one claim, but it was not upheld.
“It is not possible to circumvent restitution legislation by means of other lawsuits,” Lichovnik said.
The ruling was the work of the judge rapporteur, Milada Tomkova, whose term of office ended in the interim period before the announcement.
The lawsuit was aimed at various state institutions that now own land or other real estate, including forest and water management companies administered by the Office for State Representation in Property Matters, the State Land Office, the Ministry of Education and the Road and Motorway Directorate.
The district court dismissed the Liechtensteins’ lawsuit, and they were unsuccessful in their appeal to the Prague Regional Court. According to the district court, the lawsuit was aimed more at creating legal uncertainty for the current owners. According to the Supreme Court, it is undisputed that the properties were passed to the state when the decree became effective in 1945, while the cut-off date for most restitution claims is 1948.
The Liechtensteins were also unsuccessful in establishing alleged defects in the confiscation procedure or procedural errors. In its constitutional complaint, the foundation invoked the protection of property rights, complaining of discrimination.
The foundation lodged similar lawsuits with a number of district courts in the Czech Republic in 2018, arguing that the last holder of the family estates, Franz Joseph II of Liechtenstein, was not a citizen of Germany, but of neutral Liechtenstein, and, moreover, the head of a sovereign state.
Last year, the district court in Breclav, South Moravia, dismissed a similar suit brought by the Liechtensteins against state institutions. Among other properties, the case involved the castles of Lednice and Valtice, which also formerly belonged to the House of Liechtenstein.