In a landmark case which has shaken the financial industry, a European Court of Justice ruled that a German businessman must pay €1.5bn to the estate of a tudorian who had his house demolished to make way for a new skyscraper.
The ruling by the European Court for Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg was hailed by the owners of the former German town of Tübingen as a landmark victory for the rule of law and an important contribution to building a more tolerant society.
But it also sparked a backlash, with critics calling the ruling a step backwards for freedom of speech.
The case of the Tübers house, in Tüblingen, was brought to court in 2005 after a developer tried to demolish the former residence of the late Otto Tüber, who was a prominent architect in Germany and a leading architect of the Second World War.
The house, which was built between 1887 and 1905, was the first tudorial estate in Europe.
The demolition took place after Tünder’s death in 1910, and in the early 1990s, a German court awarded the former property owners, who had no claim to the land, €1bn.
The owners appealed the ruling in the European court of human rights, which ruled in 2012 that the owner of the property could not be held liable for the demolition.
The court ruled that the developer was acting in a “directly political” manner, because the property was sold by the Türbers family to a private developer who wanted to build a skyscraper in the city.
The German government has since approved the demolition, and the property will be handed over to the owners.