Professor Tom Allen


The Price of Memory


What is the price of memory? Many public memorials to events of conflict focus on specific locations or objects. Public agencies can often obtain the land and objects by consent, but if not, they may be able to exercise a power of compulsory purchase (or eminent domain, as it is known in many countries). This can raise a very practical question: how much should they pay for it? Most systems of law would require payment of the market value, but what if the market value has been affected by the event to be memorialised? Suppose, for example, that land is sought to create a memorial for victims of a war crime, but its market value has risen because it is recognised that it could earn a greater profit as a memorial than in any other use. In effect, the owner would reap an unearned windfall from the demand for some sort of memorial to the suffering of others. In this paper, I show that the European Court of Human Rights would probably support the owner; I also argue that it should take a different view.


Tom Allen is a professor at Durham Law School. His research concentrates on property as a fundamental right, with the focus falling on European human rights law and constitutional law in the Commonwealth.