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North Dakota Eminent Domain Law

When it comes to eminent domain, the government is playing in their arena; they do this every day. They know what the rules are, they know how the rules affect them and they know how the rules affect property owners. If the government is taking your land, make sure that you become informed so that you know what you can and cannot do. Contact us today for a free consultation from a North Dakota eminent domain attorney at (866) 692-8805.

In most cases, you won’t be able to prevent the government from acquiring your land, but you are entitled to just compensation under eminent domain law. Learn more about eminent domain generally and what you’re entitled to receive, or continue reading to learn about the North Dakota eminent domain process, your rights as a property owner and hiring a North Dakota eminent domain attorney.

We are a North Dakota eminent domain law firm that has experience handling cases nationwide. We help property owners who are impacted by highway and transit projects, pipeline projects, natural gas storage facility projects, redevelopment projects, acquisitions for municipal buildings, inverse condemnation, regulatory takings and much more. We only represent property owners, never the condemning authority or government.

Did you know that most North Dakota eminent domain attorneys work on a contingent fee basis? With this fee structure, the attorney assumes the risk of earning a fee. Also, the government or condemning authority is required to pay a property owners attorney’s fees in eminent domain cases if certain criteria are met.

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North Dakota Eminent Domain Process

In the state of North Dakota, the eminent domain process can only be stopped if the proposed taking does not meet the requirements for public purpose or public necessity. If you have determined that the proposed taking does meet these requirements, then you should learn more about the North Dakota eminent domain process and hiring a North Dakota eminent domain attorney.

Remember, even if the government has the right to condemn your property, they cannot dictate the price they are willing to pay; compensation is determined by the highest and best use laws for your property.

North Dakota Property Rights

The eminent domain abuse dialogue often centers on policy issues involving the right to take property for economic development and blight. Since the landmark case of Kelo v. City of New London in 2005, many states have taken measures to help curb eminent domain abuse. Some states were very successful at passing meaningful reform, and other states failed to pass any legislation at all. Most states fall in the middle by passing legislation that looks good on paper but does little to level the playing field between property owners and the government.

Since the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London many states across the country have taken measures to help protect the rights of private ownership.  The controversial Kelo decision held that a local government can take the private property of one person and give it to another private entity.  While the Court’s ruling was seen by many as a serious blow to citizen’s constitutionally protected rights of private property ownership, the decision prompted a number of states to initiate legislative reform to help curb eminent domain abuse.

The Castle Coalition has released a report, grading each of the states based on their efforts to protect private property owners and their rights based on changes in their respective state laws.  The Castle Coalition is the Institute for Justice’s nationwide grassroots property rights activism project that teaches home and small business owners how to protect themselves and stand up to abuse by governments and developers who seek to use eminent domain to take private property for their own gain. The Castle Coalition gives a letter grade of an A to the state of North Dakota for property rights.

In 2006, a citizen initiative called Measure 2 was introduced an amendment on the 2006 ballot. Though the North Dakota legislature didn’t meet until 2007, Measure 2 was still welcomed with overwhelming support. Measure 2 stated that “a public use or a public purpose does not include public benefits of economic development, including an increase in tax base, tax revenues, employment, or a general economic health. Private property shall not be taken for the use of, or ownership by, any private individual or entity, unless that property is necessary for conducting a common carrier or utility business.”

After this passed on the 2006 ballot, it was signed and passed as Senate Bill 2214 in 2007 by the state legislature. Now, developers are unable to condemn private property for private transfers. With the definition of public use virtually unassailable, the state’s efforts to help curb eminent domain are seen through shining colors.

Hiring an Eminent Domain Attorney in North Dakota

The most blatant form of eminent domain abuse occurs when the government or condemning authority makes a ‘low ball’ offer. This scenario invariably requires the property owner to hire an attorney to obtain just compensation. Fortunately, the vast majority of eminent domain attorneys work on a contingent fee basis, meaning they charge a percentage of the additional money they obtain for the property owner. Also, North Dakota has passed legislation requiring the condemning authority to pay the property owner’s attorneys fees and costs in eminent domain cases if certain criteria are met.

Are Attorney’s Fees Paid in Eminent Domain in North Dakota?

Property owners in North Dakota can recover their attorney’s fees in both traditional eminent domain cases and oil and gas cases. Attorney’s fees may also be recoverable if the proceeding is abandoned or dismissed by the condemning authority (NDCC 32-15-35).

The court awards attorney’s fees at their own discretion in eminent domain cases (NDCC 32-15-32). Generally, the courts have interpreted NDCC 32-15-32 liberally in favor of property owners. Once the recovery is greater than the amount offered, reasonable attorney’s fees are usually recoverable. When awarding fees in an eminent domain proceeding, the reasonableness of the fee controls the amount recoverable, not necessarily the agreement between attorney and client. Call us today for a free consultation from a North Dakota eminent domain attorney at (866) 339-7242.

For example, a reasonable fee might be more than the standard 1/3 contingent fee arrangement between attorney and client, or it may be less.

Property owners who suffer property damage from oil and gas activities are protected by ND 38-11.1-09, which allows the court to award attorney’s fees and costs if the amount of compensation awarded by the court is greater than that which was offered by the mineral developer.

With the contingent fee structure, the attorney assumes the risk for earning a fee and most eminent domain attorneys will conduct a fee case evaluation prior to recommending representation. Property owners are generally only responsible for paying costs, with the primary cost being the appraiser who values the property.

Very few attorneys can claim expertise in the area of eminent domain law. If you’re affected by eminent domain, you should obtain a consultation from an eminent domain lawyer so that you know and understand your rights before taking any action. Remember, the government is like any buyer, they will want to purchase your property as cheaply as possible, and their appraisers may neglect to consider damages that can lead to a larger amount of just compensation. 


Thanks to the citizen initiative, property owners can be at ease knowing that they have full protection against any private party transfers as a result of eminent domain. North Dakota receives nearly the highest rating because the citizen initiative resulted in a change to the state’s Century Code, ensuring full protection and reform. Click to read more about Senate Bill 2214 from the 2007 North Dakota Legislature.

Contact Us

Questions about North Dakota Eminent Domain Law or if you’re interested in a free consultation, contact us today! If you want to call us, our main number is 866-339-7242. We look forward to hearing from you.