Purchasing Property from Joint Owner Only Results in Ownership of the Whole Property?

A legal dispute between the Constitutional and Supreme Courts over whether it was (before the New Civil Code came in effect on 1 January, 2014) possible to acquire ownership of a property from its non-owner has recently been enriched with yet another ruling of the Constitutional Court in favour of the acquisition from a non-owner.

In this case, the plaintiff bought a property from Hásek, Ltd., which was entered in the Land Registry as the sole owner of the property; the supposition, however, was far from the truth as the property concerned had been purchased by a citizens’ association whose successor in ownership, being an intervener, claimed to be the property’s joint co-owner.

The Constitutional Court examined the issue as to whether the law favours the plaintiff as she had not had any means of ascertaining that Hásek Ltd. was not a sole owner of the company or the intervener who had a legitimate contract of purchase in their possession. The final verdict was in the plaintiff’s favour, who had bought the property in good faith, whereas the intervener had failed to rectify the incorrect entry in the Land Registry for 13 years before they registered declaratory action and in doing so, they disregarded the basic principle of Vigilantibus Iura Scripta Sunt.

As the differences in opinion between the Constitutional and Supreme Courts on a purchase of a property from a non-owner causes harm to parties to the lawsuits, the Supreme Court adopted the stance of the Constitutional Court in the ruling of the great senate 31Cdo 353/2016; hence, we need not be worried our cases will have to be taken to the Constitutional Court.