The Portuguese Government has recently updated expropriation legislation. The changes allow public authorities to expropriate, in specific cases, private land and other real estate assets, and this without a full and complete identification of the expropriated parcel of land, of its owners and other interested parties. There is a possibility that the mandatory survey by a qualified and independent expert will be skipped in the future. Furthermore, temporary occupation of land required for surveying or granting access to ongoing public works will be automatic and unrestricted.
Before the approval of this legislation, APAE has transmitted the concerns and objections of the experts to the national chartered engineers organization (Ordem dos Engenheiros). This organization shared these concerns, and therefore forwarded them in due time to the prime minister, to several members of government, to members of parliament and party leaders, stressing the unconstitutional and anti-economic aspects of the legal changes in progress.
In spite of these actions, the new legislation was finally approved.
The Portuguese association of experts identified several negative consequences of this legislation:
- Risk and incertitude are added to physical assets, reducing their market/estimated value.
- Property rights are offended, in a way that APAE finds unconstitutional.
- Acquisition of right-of-way for public infrastructures can become difficult without proper and trusted procedures, consuming additional time and money.
Amid the pandemic crisis, governments around the world are adopting exceptional measures affecting individual rights - lockdowns and temporary limitations to free circulation. Simultaneously, economic policies are trying to mitigate the severe economic and social impact of these unprecedented measures.
Aside from direct compensations to firms and individuals, some countries - among them Portugal - are planning massive public investment in infrastructure such as ports, railroads and roads, expecting a generous contribution from EU emergency funds.
In order to preserve individual guaranties while safeguarding public interest and upholding the legitimate right of landowners to just compensation, the actual legal procedures were consolidated and summarized in a specific “Code of Expropriation”.