Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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01 May 2009
European Court of Justice rules in favour of Greek Cypriot property owner in the Apostolides v Orams case
Once again, a European court has upheld the rights of a Greek Cypriot owner of property in the illegally occupied north of Cyprus.

London, 1 May 2009 – Once again, a European court has upheld the rights of a Greek Cypriot owner of property in the illegally occupied north of Cyprus.

In the case of Apostolides v Orams – a British couple paid for a property in the northern part of Cyprus from someone with no legal title to it and went on to occupy and build a holiday villa on the land. Mr Apostolides, the legitimate title holder of the property, who is unable to enjoy his property due to the illegal presence of Turkey's occupying forces, successfully obtained a judgment in the Republic of Cyprus' Courts demanding that his land be returned, the villa be destroyed and compensation be paid for loss of use.

Under EU regulations, a judgment of the Cyprus Courts can be enforced against the assets of the illegal buyers in another EU member state where they may have assets. Following a request for clarification of the relevant EU regulation by the English Court of Appeal, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) this week ruled that where displaced Greek Cypriots defend their property rights in the occupied areas before the civil courts in the Republic of Cyprus and obtain a judgment against the illegal property owners, that EU member states such as the UK are obliged to respect and enforce the Cypriot Court's judgments.

Commenting on the decision, a spokesman for Lobby for Cyprus, said, "We have been warning Britons not to buy land or property in the north for many years not only because it is unethical to benefit from the suffering of displaced Greek Cypriot land and property owners but because purchasers are very likely to lose all their investments." Lobby pointed out that in most cases the buyer will lose what they paid because there is unlikely to be any recourse against the person selling the property, even if they can be found.

In its reaction to the decision of the ECJ, the Law Office of the Republic noted that "thus, the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus and the competence of the Republic's authorities on the whole territory of Cyprus are once more being reaffirmed."

Even though the ruling cannot currently be enforced in the occupied areas because of the presence of the 43,000-man Turkish army of occupation, Meletis Apostolides will be able to enforce the judgment and his claim for compensation in a UK court. "And, he will still, of course, retain full title to the property," Lobby pointed out.

The decision by the Luxembourg-based court is consistent with other precedents in the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, which has constantly ruled that the land and property in the occupied north still belongs to the GreekCypriot refugees who were forced to flee following the 1974 invasion byTurkey.

Despite the potential risks, it is reported that David and Linda Orams had invested £234,000 in the venture.

"Despite everything we have been saying, despite all our warnings," Lobby commented, "people still insist on making these foolish purchases. In addition to illegal sales by those who don't own the land or properties, there have been instances where builders and developers have taken money from the unwary buyer and not built the homes at all."

Lobby again cautioned Britons about succumbing to the advertisements placed by unscrupulous persons in the occupied north of Cyprus, and the UK, and warned potential buyers to seek the advice of UK lawyers with expertise in this area or at least the British High Commissioner in Nicosia. "If people want to contact us," he added, "we will be glad to give them the kind of advice they won't get from those who are offering the stolen land and properties for sale."

He added, "It has been made plain by the courts that foreign buyers have no rights that take precedence over the legal title-deed holders "but that if they take the risk that they will benefit from cheaper property then there is a serious risk that they will be pursued by the legitimate Greek Cypriot title holders who will be able to enforce their judgments against their assets in
another EU member state.

Lobby for Cyprus has a telephone hotline for those who require legal advice. Please call Angela Ioannou on +44 (0)20 8888 2556.