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Land or buildings cannot be acquired based on an invalid contract

  • Slovakia
  • Real estate planning

30-06-2021

Is it possible to acquire land or a building based on an invalid contract? The courts have tackled this issue in different ways. Earlier court decisions protected the original owner and argued this was not possible. They were based on the principle that no one can transfer more rights than they have. Thus, even a buyer who bought land from a person registered in the Land Register as the owner could not acquire it.

Recent court decisions have begun to consider the buyer and to protect his goodwill. The buyer could therefore become the owner of the land or building, even based on an invalid contract from the non-owner. The important thing was whether the buyer proceeded with due care in verifying whether the seller was the owner.

This difference of opinion also prevailed in the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court and created legal uncertainty. In recent decision , the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic provided an answer to this question. It leaned towards older decisions, stating that ownership could not be acquired under an invalid contract, even if it is subsequently proven that the contract is invalid because the previous owner of the property was not its owner. However, the right to acquire ownership by holding such land after 10 years is not affected.

Grand Chamber decisions must be respected by the other chambers of the Supreme Court. The question remains whether this decision will also be respected by the Constitutional Court, which in some decisions took the opposite view.