In a decision issued on 25 June 2019 (file no. III. ÚS 2280/18), the Constitutional Court addressed the question of whether a footpath is an independent piece of real property or should be considered part of the land.

According to the court, for a built-up structure to be considered real property – that is, a structure firmly based in the ground – it must constitute an “independent object” in legal terms. Based on the court’s previous decisions, this means it must be discernible, i.e. it must be possible to detect a clear boundary where the land ends and the structure begins. If no such line can be drawn, the structure is merely part of the land surface.

In the case at hand, the trial court heard that the footpath had originally been made of slag, which was later replaced with gravel and a top layer of several centimetres of asphalt. Furthermore, there was a clear boundary on one side of the footpath where a sheet-metal fence had been built. Having examined this technical description, the court found the footpath to be an independent object in the legal sense, i.e.  a “delineable part of the physical world” since a clear line could be discerned between the land and the structure. The court concluded that the footpath was, in fact, more than part of the surface of the land plot. From a legal standpoint, it represented an independent structure and, as such, was part of the road owned by the applicant (i.e. the municipality).

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