The concept of property has undergone through the ages many changes but their examination does not fall within the scope of this paper.
As observed by Paton the term "property" has "a bewildering variety of uses". It may reflect the legal relationship of a person to a particular object in the sense of a right of ownership or title or it may be related to the subject matter or such right itself.
In other respects the expression "property" may be used in its widest sense including all of a person's legal rights of whatever description, what the Romans called a "universitas rerum" and the Greeks "periousia".
The classical from of the right of property comprised a power to possess and use the object of property, to enjoy it and to destroy it, which in the Roman law was expressed as "jus utendi. jus fruendi and jus abutendi" although certain restrictions were put to the last one. This right was considered as one of the natural rights brought by man at his birth, which could not in any way be interfered with except in certain restricted cases specifically provided by law.
That was the concept permeating the various declarations and constitutions during the French revolution.
"Les hommes naissent at demeurent libres et egaux en droit .... Les droits sont ... la propriete."
declared art. 1 et 2 of the declaration de droits de l'homme et du citoyen of 1789 and repeated all subsequent declarations and constitutions. In this respect the provision of article 8 of the Declaration of 1793 is noteworthy.
"La surete consiste dans la protection accordee par la societe a chacun des ses members par la conservation de sa personne, de ses droits et de sa propriete."

The Code Civil on the other hand in its article 544 defines the right of property on similar lines.

"La propriete est le droit de jouir et disposer des choses de la maniere la plus absolute, pourvu qu' on n'en fasse pas un usage prohibe par la loi et les reglements."

In the United States of America the right to private property under the influence of Locke was recognized as a natural individual right by the various Bills of Rights and the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.
This individualistic approach, however, to the right of property has changed to-day. The right of property instead of being considered as a natural individual right inviolable, sacrosanct and imprescriptible, which every individual brings with him at birth, is looked upon as a social function imposing obligations also on the individual for the benefit of the society of which he is a member.
The right of property, under this new concept, is created and regulated by law for the social benefit and expresses a relationship not between individuals and things but between the individuals themselves. This new concept was declared by many constitutional texts after the First World War.
Reference may be made to article 153 of the constitution of Weimar, repeated in article 14 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany, which is as follows:

"(1) The rights of ownership and of inheritance are guaranteed. Their contents and limits shall be determined by the laws.
(2) Property imposes duties. Its use should also serve the public weal" ............................................."

Also the constitution of France of 1949 in its preamble after reaffirming the rights and freedoms of man and citizen consecrated by the Declaration of Rights of 1789 proclaims that - ............................................."
"All property and all enterprises that now have or subsequently shall have the character of a national public service or a monopoly in fact must become the property of the community."

By the preamble to the constitution of France of 1958 to 1963 the attachment of the French people to the Rights of Man and the principles of national sovereignty, reaffirmed and complemented by the preamble of the constitution of 1946, was proclaimed.
The new concept of property, amounting to a social function imposing obligations, was adopted by many post Second War constitutions.

2. But even when the right of property was considered as a natural inviolable and imprescriptible right it had to yield, on certain occasions, to the right of the community at large when public interest so required.
The Declaration if Rights of 1789 itself in article 17 proclaimed that -
"La propriete etant un droit inviolable et sacre, nul ne peut en etre prive, si ce n'est lorsque la necessite publique, legalement constatee, l'exige et sous la condition d'une juste et prealable indemnite."

Even before that the Great Charter of 1215 in England by its 29th Chapter guaranteed that "no free man shall be ... disseize of his freeholds or liberties or free customs ... but by the law of the land."
Also by the Fifth Amendment of the American Constitution it was provided that -
"nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

The power of expropriation, as it was called, has been granted since by almost every constitution.
Such power is inherent in the sovereignty of every state which is entitled to exercise supreme authority over all persons and things within its territory. This includes the right to take to itself any property within its territory applying the principle of "eminent domain", as it is called in the United States of America, which is the proprietary aspect of sovereignty and is inseparable from it.
As the Supreme Court of India put it in the case of Chiranjit Lal v. Union of India (A 1951 SC 41 (54) Mulkerjea J) -
"It is a right inherent in every sovereign to take and appropriate private property belonging to individual citizens for public use. The right which is described as eminent domain in American law, is like the power of taxation, an offspring of political necessity, and it is supposed to be based upon an implied reservation by Government that private property acquired by its citizens under its protection may be taken or its use controlled for public benefit irrespective of the wishes of the owner."

The right to expropriate has been recognized in diplomatic practice and by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1962 (Resolution 1803 (XVII) and reaffirmed on November 25, 1966, though always coupled with the requirement for compensation.

3. Another method of compulsory taking of private property by the State is confiscation. Confiscation differs from expropriation in that no compensation is paid for the taking of property.
Confiscation, or as the English terminology prefers forfeiture, is punishment, presupposes conviction of a criminal offence and is usually limited to the loss of the instruments or products sceleris. So long as confiscation, being a from of punishment, cannot be effected except in judicial proceedings it follows then even the legislature should not impose confiscation though at various at ages of history examples of such confiscation may come across. But the Fundamental law of civilized countries prohibits now such a course. It is significant that the Constitution of Cyprus by its Article 12.6 prohibits the general confiscation of property as a punishment.
A rule of customary international law prohibiting confiscation of property on territory occupied by a belligerent appears to have developed recently.
Sometimes, however, it happens that property is transferred to the State by indirect means for, instance through the imposition of confiscating taxes as in the case of Corn Products Refining Company.

4. Finally "nationalization" is another method of taking private property by the State in the exercise of its territorial sovereignly.
Regarding terminology the expression "nationalization" though not unknown towards the end of the nineteenth century nevertheless it was after the Second Word War that it was made frequent use of when the various States took extensive nationalization measures.
But as pointed out by O'Connell -
"the term "nationalization" is not one of art; hence as such it has no place in the language of international law. It is popularly employed to describe the process whereby certain industries or means of production, distribution or exchange are, in pursuance of social or economic politics, concentrated in public hands".

The Institute de Droit International defined nationalization, to the same effect, as follows: -
"La nationalisation est le transfert a l'Etat par measure legislative et dans un interet public, de biens de droit prives d'une certaine categorie, en vue de leur exploration ou controle par l'Etat ou d'une nouvelle destination qui leur seriat donnee par celui-ci".

It follows from the above decision that the motives for nationalization, whether political, economical, financial or social, are immaterial.
Nationalization may be distinguished from expropriation in two respects -
a)regarding the duration of the process of transfer. Whilst an expropriation law is a piece of permanent legislation enabling it to be invoked on every occasion of expropriation and providing for the machinery to be used in such case a nationalization legislation usually provides a process which is to be put into operation only once and aim at the transfer of the enterprise to be State or State controlled body by operation of law.
b)expropriation usually relates to particular property whilst nationalization is made for an enterprise in general or the whole of proprietary (universitas rerum) and other rights and obligations.

As Vedel says -
" La nationalisation porte sur un ensemble de biens, de droits et d'obligations, sur une universalite. Les expropriation ordinaries, on le sait, portent au contraire sur des biens individualisees et ne comportent pas a la charge de l'expropriant un passif (sauf les indemnites aux creanciers hypothecaires). L'expropriation porte au contraire sur un ensemble, sur l'universalite des biens devolus a la nouvelle enterprise nationale et, par consequent, par le probleme du reglement du passif". 




 1. The right of property in Cyprus is guaranteed by Article 23 of its Constitution, paragraph 1 of which is as follows:-
"Every person alone or jointly with others has the right to acquire, possess, enjoy or dispose of any movable or immovable property and has the right to respect for such right.
The right of the Republic to underground water, minerals and antiquities is reserved."

The Constitution itself does not define the right guaranteed under that paragraph but as pointed out by the Supreme Constitutional Court in Evlogimenos v. The Republic 2 RSCC p. 142 -
"Further the Court in examining the provisions of Article 23 of the Constitutions has proceeded on the well-settled principle that the right to property safeguarded by an Article such as this is not a right in abstracto but a right as defined and regulated by the law relating to civil law rights to property and the word "property" in paragraph 1 of Article 23 has to be understood and interpreted in this sense."

This is in accordance with the principles adopted by other constitutions. The constitution of Japan of 1946 for instance specifically provides in article 29 that -
"the right to own or to old hold property is inviolable, but property rights shall be defined by law, in conformity with public welfare"

So a guidance is given to the legislator as to criteria to be adopted in respect of the definition of the right to property.
The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany on the other hand in article 14 (1) provides that "the contents and limits" of the property and the right of inheritance "shall be determined by the laws" without in any way preceding the extent or manner of such determination.
Some other constitutions contain more precise definition of the right to property and leave to the legislator to regulate the exercise of that right in accordance with certain principles expressly provided by the constitution. In this respect reference may be to article 43 of the constitution of Eire, a unique feature of which is the recognition of the right to "private ownership of external goods" as a natural right "antecedent to positive law", whereby a power is acknowledged to the state" as occasion requires" to "delimit by law" the exercise of the rights guaranteed by that article "with a view of reconciling their exercise with the exigencies of the common good".

Finally under the provisions of other constitutions, especially those of the Eastern block, the constitutional protection varies in accordance with the mode of acquisition of the property.
But though the Constitution of Cyprus does not define itself the right guaranteed under paragraph 1 of Article 23 nevertheless on a proper construction of that paragraph it appears -
(a) that the property protected thereunder should be either movable or immovable property. No definition is given in the Constitution of either of those expressions but on the well-known principles of construction the constitutional legislator must be taken to have known the meaning of those expressions in the legal system of Cyprus immediately before the coming into operation of the Constitution and to have used them with that meaning.
(b) the movable or immovable property protected thereby should be capable of being acquired, owned, enjoyed or disposed of,
(c) If the law does not recognize any right on any such property there could be no protection under that Article, 
(d) the right should be defined in the law in such a way as to render the guarantee provided by the Constitution operative and not to frustrate the constitutional protection by under restriction of the contents or extent of the right.
Of course it would be better had the Constitution by express provision indicated what kind of property and to what extent it was intended to protect it. And in this respect the preparatory works of Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights may be of interest.

2. No deprivation or restriction or limitation of any right guaranteed under paragraph 1 of Article 23 shall be made except as provided in Article 23 (ibit paragraph 2).
We are not concerned in this paper about the restrictions or limitations of such right for which specific provision is made in paragraph 3 of that Article. But with regard to deprivation apart from the cases specifically provided in paragraph 7 no such deprivation can be made save in case of compulsory acquisition of property.

3. Compulsory acquisition or movable or immovable property may be effected under the following conditions: -
(1) The acquiring authority should be -

(a) the Republic; or
(b) a municipal corporation; or
(c) a Communal Chamber for the educational, religious. charitable or sporting institutions, bodies or establishments within its competence and only for the persons belonging to its respective Community; or
(d) a public corporation or a public utility body on which such right has been conferred by law.

(2) The acquisition should be made for a purpose which is to the public benefit and shall be specially provided by a general law for compulsory acquisition which shall be enacted within a year from the date of the coming into operation of the Constitution (the 16th August 1960);

(3) Such purpose should be established by a decision of the acquiring authority and made under the provisions of such law stating clearly the reason for such acquisition; and
(4) Upon the payment in cash and in advance of a just and equitable compensation to be determined in case of disagreement by a civil court.

4. It follows from the above constitutional provisions that -
(a) the acquiring cannot be any person other than the State or the public bodies respectively provided in the Constitution, to which the acquiring power is given expressly by law;
(b) no compulsory acquisition can be made unless the property to be acquired shall be vested in the acquiring authority. The acquired authority cannot compulsorily acquire property in the case expressly provided in the Constitution.

Such case is provided by paragraph 6 of Article 23 in the event of agricultural reform when land compulsorily acquired may be distributed from the purpose of such reform only to persons belonging to the same Community as the owner of the acquired property;
(c) the purpose for which the acquisition shall be made should be a purpose to the public benefit and shall be specially provided by a general law for compulsory acquisition.
Such law was enacted in 1962, the Compulsory Acquisition Law of that year, which though enacted after the time limit provided in sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Constitution was found be the Supreme Constitutional Court not to be unconstitutional because the provision as to tome were in the nature of directives to the legislature and, definitely, did not preclude subsequent compliance, the legislature being not entitled but bound to comply there with even after expiration of the time limit.
In section 3 (2) of that Law the particular purposes to the public benefit for which property may be compulsorily acquired are specified.
So long as the Constitution leaves to the legislator to specify the purposes to the public benefit for which a compulsory acquisition can be made it would not be necessary in each particular case to determine either by legislative or administrative action as elsewhere whether the proposed purpose is to the public benefit if it comes within the legislative ambit. (d) if the purpose is one of the specified in the relevant Law then in each concrete case it has to be established by a decision of the acquiring authority that such purpose exists. In such decisions the reasons for the proposed acquisition should be clearly stated.
In the case of Chrysokhou Brothers v. Cyta (1966) J.S.C. p. 671 seq., it was found that no such decision for the compulsory acquisition was validly taken and the whole proceedings for compulsory acquisition were therefore a nullity;
(e) the machinery laid down in the afore cited Law should be followed in order to effect the acquisition.
For this purpose an order of acquisition would be necessary to be made by the acquiring authority. But were such authority is a public corporation or a public utility body no order of acquisition shall be made by such utility body no order of acquisition shall be made by such acquiring authority without the sanction of the Council of Ministers previously obtained (section 6 (3) of the Law);
(f) no acquisition shall be made except upon payment of a just and equitable compensation to be determined in case of disagreement by a civil court.
The matter of "just and equitable" compensation came up for consideration by the Supreme Court in the case of Moti and another v. The Republic (1968) J.S.C. at p. 285.
It was found in that case such compensation means the full and perfect equivalent of the property taken and included also compensation for the loss arising directly out of the delay in the sanctioning of the acquisition.
Such compensation shall be paid in cash. Very few constitutions provide for a cash payment of compensation as payment of compensation may be made either in kind or by exchange with other property. In Cyprus, save for the consent of the owner, no compensation otherwise that in cash can be paid.
The compensation shall also be paid in advance that is to say before the completion of the acquisition. From the way paragraph 4 of Article is worded (".................... any movable or immovable property or any right over or interest in such payment should be made only before the acquisition of the ownership but also before taking possession of the property.
Finally, such compensation has to be determined in case of disagreement by a civil court. The Constitution of Cyprus thus leaves the determination of the legislative or administrative authorities. But of course there is nothing preventing the legislature to provide for the general principles according to which compensation is to be assessed. Such principles are now contained in section 10 of the Compulsory Acquisition Law, 1962, which reproduce, with some modifications, the rules for the assessment of compensation in section 2 of the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919;
(g) any king of movable or immovable property of any description may be the subject of compulsory acquisition.
Though there is no definition of movable or immovable property in the Constitution the Compulsory Acquisition of Property Law, 1962, in section 2 (1) defines immovable property by reference to section 2 of the Immovable Property (tenure, Registration and Valuation) Law (Cap. 224) and movable property as a tangible property of every description except immovable property and as including any right or interest in any such property.
So it os not only corporeal property which is subject to compulsory acquisition but also any right or interest of a proprietary nature over any such property.
The Constitution of Cyprus does not protect constitutional rights as the constitution of the United States of America which by its Article I Section 10 Paragraph 1 prohibits the passing of any Law by a State "impairing the Obligation of Contracts".
It is to be noted that under the Constitution of Cyprus movables may be compulsory acquired whilst under certain constitutions of some other countries only immovable property may be so acquired.

5. No movable or immovable property belonging to any See, monastery, church or any other ecclesiastical corporation, including any right over it or interest therein, and no vakf immovable property, including the objects and subjects of the vakfs and properties belonging to any Mosque or other Moslem religious institutions, can be compulsorily acquired except with the written consent of the appropriate ecclesiastical authority being in control of such property or with the approval of the Turkish Communal Chamber, respectively (paragraph 9 and 10 of Article 23).

6. Any immovable property or any right over or interest in any such property compulsorily acquired shall only be used for the purpose for which it has been acquired. If within three years of the acquisition such purpose has not been attained the acquiring authority shall, immediately after the expiration of the said period of three years, offer the property at the price it has been acquired to the person from whom it has been acquired. Such person shall be entitled within three months of the offer, and if he signifies acceptance, such property shall be returned to him immediately after his returning such price within a further period of three months from such acceptance (paragraph 5 of Article 23).

7. The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus differentiates between the compulsory acquisition of property and the requisition of property (with which it deals in paragraph 8 of Article 23).
Under that paragraph any movable or immovable property may be requisitioned by the Republic or by a Communal Chamber for the purposes of the educations within its competence and only where the owner or the person entitled to possession of such property belongs to the respective Community. A requisition may be made for the same reasons and under the same conditions as a compulsory acquisition, except that the requisition cannot exceed three years and the compensation to be paid need not be paid in advance but promptly.
By virtue of paragraph 8 (a) of Article 23 the Requisition of Property Law, 1962, was passed. By its section 3 (2) the same purposes to the public benefit are specified as those for the compulsory acquisition.
A requisition differs from an acquisition of property in that under a requisition order only possession of the property is taken, the ownership remaining in the owner, whilst under an acquisition order the ownership is transferred. Furthermore, the compensation need not be paid in advance but promptly. Finally, a public corporation or a public utility body is not included amongst the requisitioning authorities.

8. The right of property is guaranteed by Article 23 of the Constitution not only to citizens but to every persons, including aliens.
Of course under Article 32 of the Constitution the Republic is not precluded from regulating by law this matter differently for aliens but no such regulation has been made so far and even if made it has to be in accordance with International Law.
In such a case the alien would be entitled to the international minimum standards under which the confiscation of foreign property is prohibited and the alien-owner is entitled to compensation though not at the same level as that on which compensation is awarded to citizens. Then be could have no legitimate ground of complaint because the treatment he receives is inferior to that which he would have received under his national law. When an alien acquires property in a foreign country he must be aware of the special constitutes under which he is to hold that property.

9. A compulsory acquisition should not be ordered if its object can be achieved in any less onerous manner; and it should be only resorted to if it is absolutely necessary to do so after exhausting the alternative possibility of achieving its object by means of purchasing other suitable property which is voluntarily offered by the owner. And before resorting to compulsory acquisition of a particular immovable property it should be considered whether there exists any other such property the acquisition of which will entail a deprivation on less onerous terms than the deprivation entailed in the proposed acquisition. 




 1. The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus does not contain any provision relating to nationalization like the constitutions of some other countries.
2. Under paragraph 3 of Article 25 of the Constitution of Cyprus, however, and as an exception to the freedoms of work, trade and business guaranteed under paragraph 1 of that Article a law may provide, if it is in the public interest, that certain enterprises of the nature of an essential public service or relating to the exploitation of sources of energy or other natural resources should be carried out exclusively by the Republic or a municipal corporation or by a public corporate body created for the purpose by such law and administered under the control of the Republic, and having a capital which may be derived from public and private funds or from either such course only.
By this constitutional provision power is given to the State to create a State monopoly subject to the following conditions: -

(a) such monopoly should be created by law;
(b) in the public interest;
(c) only with regard to enterprises constituting an essential public service or relating to the exploitation of sources of energy or other natural resources; and
(d) be carried out exclusively by the State or a municipal corporation or a public corporation created ad hoc by such law.

The public corporation is a new type of public institution created for the purposes of "overcoming the antithesis of government and business ........ it is allotted with power of government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of private enterprise".

3. The creation of the State monopoly contemplated by Article 25 (3) of the Constitution is not a from of nationalization as no individual property in any from is transferred to the State. No question of compensation, therefore, arises. Nevertheless by the proviso to paragraph 3 of Article 23 it is provided that "where the enterprise was carried out any person, other than a municipal corporation or a public corporate body; the installations used for such enterprise shall, at the request of such person, be acquired on payment of a just price by the public corporate body concerned".
It is to be observer that acquisition of the installations is made at the request of their owner if such owner is not a municipal corporation or other public body and the payment to be made in such a case would be payment of just price and not a just compensation as in the case of compulsory acquisition. Furthermore such price would be restricted only to the installations acquired and shall not relate to the goodwill or any proprietary rights.

4. So long as the Constitution of Cyprus is silent about nationalization a question arises whether the Republic of Cyprus has power to nationalize an enterprise.

The answer should be in the affirmative.

The Republic of Cyprus under Article 1 of its Constitution is an independent and sovereign State. It has, therefore, power, by a law to nationalize property within its territory if none of the human rights and fundamental freedom guaranteed by its Constitution is interfered with and no property of an alien is taken without keeping the international minimum standards. 




 The right to property is also guaranteed in the Republic of Cyprus by Article 1 of the Protocol to the Convention for the protection of Human Right and Fundamental Freedoms which is as follows: -

"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 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."

That Protocol was accede to by the Republic under a decision of the Council of Ministers and was ratified by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights (Ratification) Law, 1962, and having been published in the official gazette of the Republic constitutes a part of its law and under Article 169 (3) of its Constitution has superior force to any municipal law. 




 I may now conclude: -

(a) the property guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus represents the individualistic concept of property. The right of property is an individual prerogative and not a social function imposing obligation towards the society'

(b) the privileges and rights of the Church and other religious corporations and the Vakf are preserved and property belonging to them cannot be compulsorily acquired except with the consent or approval of the authority or person having control of that property:

(c) the right of property is secured. No deprivation of this right can be effected except through the constitutional machinery of the compulsory acquisition of property and in compliance with the conditions and guarantees laid down in the Constitution.

Some of those conditions and especially the requirement of payment of compensation in advance and in cash (excluding payment by bonds, in kind or by exchange for other property) is a handicap to many development programs;

(d) exceptionally and when public interest so requires, a State monopoly may be created by law in respect of certain enterprises of the nature of an essential public service or relating to the exploitation of sources of energy or other natural resources. Such monopoly shall be carried out exclusively by the Republic or by a municipal corporation or by a public corporation created ad hoc by that Law and administered under the control of the Republic. The capital of that corporation may be derived either from public and private funds or from either such source. No compensation is payable in such case but if the owner of the installations is not a municipal corporation or a public body and so wishes the Republic, the municipal corporation or the public corporations concerned as the case may be, shall acquire such installations and pay their just price:

(e) the Constitution is silent about nationalization. But the Republic of Cyprus, being a sovereign State, has power in the exercise of its territorial sovereignty to nationalize any enterprise by law on condition that compliance is made with the constitutional provisions relating to the fundamental rights and liberties and, in case of property belonging to aliens, with the minimum international standards.