ECHR rejects appeals of ruling in tobacco license case

Issues

The European Court of Human Rights yesterday said it had rejected appeals against a ruling in January that found Hungary had violated rules on private property when it cancelled a tobacco sellerʼs license and failed to award him a new one in a tender. 

László Vékony, the applicant in the case, managed a store that sold tobacco products for more than 16 years when Hungary introduced a state monopoly on retail tobacco sales. When the state rejected his application for a concession under the new system, he turned to the court in Strasbourg, arguing that the lack of a tobacco license made it difficult to support his family. He also alleged that discrepancies in the way applications for the concessions were evaluated could only be explained with political adherence.

In the January ruling, the court said the act had violated Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 which entitles natural and legal persons "to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions" and prohibits the deprivation of those possessions "except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law". The court ordered the state to pay the applicant the equivalent in forints of €15,000 for damages and €6,000 for costs and expenses. The ruling becomes legally binding, through the rejection of the appeals.

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