EVICT seminar on Property and Proportionality in Housing Law and Eviction Litigation

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Evictions & the right to housing
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Dr. Walsh (Trinity College Dublin), Dr Fick (University of the Western Cape)

Property and Proportionality in Housing Law and Eviction Litigation

The EVICT project organizes a special online seminar on the interplay between property rights and proportionality within housing law and eviction litigation, with Dr. Rachael Walsh (Trinity College Dublin), Dr. Sarah Fick (University of the Western Cape) and Prof. Michel Vols (University of Groningen, EVICT). In this seminar the speakers will reflect on the influence of human rights and the proportionality principle in eviction proceedings in their ‘own’ jurisdictions: Ireland, South Africa, and the Netherlands.


4:00 Opening (Dr Michelle Bruijn, University of Groningen, EVICT)

4:05 ‘Property, Proportionality and Marginality: Assessing the Impact of Non Ownership Rights’, Dr Rachael Walsh (Trinity College Dublin)

4:20 Q&A

4:25 ‘Property versus proportionality: how European law changed the way squatting is tackled in the Netherlands’ by Prof Michel Vols (University of Groningen, EVICT)

4:40 Q&A

4:45 ‘The meaning of just and equitable evictions in terms of the South African Constitution’ by Dr Sarah Fick (University of the Western Cape)

5:00 Q&A

5:30 Closing remarks by Dr Michelle Bruijn

About the talks

Property, Proportionality and Marginality: Assessing the Impact of Non-Ownership Rights’

Property rights are often characterised as entailing robust exclusionary powers that are not diluted by conflict with non-ownership rights. However, at ECHR and national court levels, there is increasing evidence that the enforcement measures available to owners are influenced by the rights of non-owners, including unlawful occupiers. This paper assesses these developments through the lens of the rights of vulnerable non-owners, considering how the home rights of members of the Travelling  Community may re-shape laws that have previous penalised unlawful occupation of land by such individuals.

Property versus proportionality: how the ECHR changed the Dutch fight against squatting

Squatting is illegal in the Netherlands and the public prosecution service is allowed to evict squatters. Yet, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that Article 8 ECHR requires that squatters must have the opportunity to have the proportionality of the upcoming eviction tested by a court before the eviction takes place. In most cases, the squatters lose, but in some cases they win. The talk discusses how the ECHR changed the way   squatting is tackled, and a new piece of legislation that aims to speed up the eviction proceedings.

The meaning of just and equitable evictions in terms of the South African Constitution

This talk will consider the protection against evictions from one’s home in terms of the South African Constitution. Section 26(3), read with section 172(1)(b), of the Constitution provides that no one may be evicted without a court order. A court may only grant an eviction order if, considering all of the relevant circumstances, the eviction would be just and equitable. The talk briefly compares this protection to that provided by the ECHR.


About the chair and speakers

Dr Michelle Bruijn is a postdoctoral researcher in the EVICT project, and an Assistant Professor at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Within the EVICT project, she conducts postdoctoral research on the meaning and impact of the international right to housing in national eviction cases. She is also is the Web Editor of and she supervises and coordinates the monthly talk series.

Dr Rachael Walsh is Assistant Professor at the School of Law, Trinity College Dublin, researching and teaching on the interface between public and private law in the context of property. She is the author of Property Rights and Social Justice: Progressive Property in Action (Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Prof Dr Michel Vols is the Principal Investigator in the EVICT project and full professor of law at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. His main fields of research are housing law, human rights, public safety, and legal methodology. He received several grants and awards including an ERC Starting Grant (1.5 million euros) and a Dutch VENI-grant (250.000 euros).

Dr Sarah Fick is a senior lecturer at the University of the Western Cape, in Cape Town, South Africa. Her research focus in the protection against eviction in terms of the South African Constitution. She has written a number of articles with Prof Michel Vols comparing the South African situation with that of Europe.


The seminar will be held online and takes place on the 21st of April from 4:00 to 5:30 PM (Amsterdam/Berlin/Paris, UTC+01:00).

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Join this talk:

21 April, 2022

  • Location: Online
  • Organised by: EVICT

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