The act of compulsory acquisition is considered an individual administrative act, the purpose of which serves the public interest and therefore, it can be revoked irrespective of how long ago it was issued. There is a provision in the law allowing the revocation of the said order at any time prior to the payment of the compensation to the owner without the need to explain the reason.
Such a revocation can be made through a new order published in the Official Gazette of the Republic and it may refer either to the whole or part of the land declared to be compulsorily acquired. From the day after publication, the relevant procedure becomes ineffective and the purpose of the acquisition is considered abandoned.
Revocation may affect pending cases before the courts where the owners affected claim compensation, but such cases will be withdrawn and the owners awarded with costs only. Any owner who files a recourse before the Supreme Court requesting the setting aside of the revocation order will fail since there is a provision in the law giving the right to the acquiring authority to revoke the order for acquisition prior to the payment of the compensation.
The issue was examined by the Administrative Court in a judgment issued on 4.1.2018 concerning the recourse of a land owner claiming an order annulling the revocation of the order of compulsory acquisition of her land. In particular, the acquiring authority, having made a proposal to the owner for compensation and while relevant negotiations were in progress between the valuers of the parties, revoked the order for the compulsory acquisition.
The court held that the revocation order was an executory administrative act, similar to the compulsory acquisition order and the act of the acquiring authority is examined by the Administrative Court. The court underlined that the Compulsory Acquisition Law provides for the acquiring authority to be able to revoke the notice of compulsory acquisition until and prior to the payment of compensation. The owners of the immovable property are protected as regards the enjoyment of their property by article 23 of the Constitution.
However, they never have a “right” to decide for the compulsory acquisition of their property, which is protected by the Constitution. Consequently, the owners of the compulsorily acquired properties do not have a protected “right” to the non-abandonment of the compulsory acquisition by the acquiring authority. Therefore, given the strict provisions of the law, the owner, independently of the issue of the Notice and the Order of Acquisition, did not establish a right but an expectation for the completion of the acquisition provided the acquiring authority did not wish to revoke it always within the legal framework examined judicially, prior to the payment of the compensation, as stated in the law. Therefore, the court examined only the legality of the decision for the revocation.
In this case, the acquiring authority changed their plans regarding the construction of a high school, which was to be constructed on another piece of land which had been compulsorily acquired and the relevant compensation paid. The court considered the change of the position of the administration in its plans to serve the public interest fell under the accepted limits of its discretion.
The owner had only a right for compensation in respect of the costs reasonably incurred as a result of the publication of the notice and the order for compulsory acquisition, which in the meantime had been revoked. The court concluded that the owner’s omission to examine and claim her rights in relation to the enjoyment of her property did not give her a right to intervene in the choices of the administration in respect of the revocation of the compulsory acquisition of her land, except if this decision was not made bona fide or for public interest purposes and dismissed the recourse.