Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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08 September 2006
Orams v Apostolides case
On 6 September 2006 Judgement was handed down in the Orams v Apostolides case in which the English High Court granted the Appeal by Mr and Mrs Orams against the registration of the Cyprus court Judgement issued against them.

On 6 September 2006 Judgement was handed down in the Orams v Apostolides case in which the English High Court granted the Appeal by Mr and Mrs Orams against the registration of the Cyprus court iudgment issued against them.

To begin with it should be noted that the Appeal was not against the ruling on the substantive issues, which have been left untouched by the High Court decision. The High Court confirmed that the Orams were trespassers on the land of Mr Apostolides and that he, and certainly not they, remained the legal owners of the property. This is extremely significant since it is the first time that an English Court has recognised the illegality of so called property sales of Greek Cypriot property to foreign nationals in the occupied area of Cyprus.

Curiously, however, this decision has been reported by some of the press as a "victory" for the Orams. Anyone having had the benefit of reading the judgement will appreciate that this is by no means the case. On the contrary, the Judge simply found that on two technical grounds Mr Apostolides is presently unable to enforce his Judgement in the UK. Therefore, far from being a "victory" for the Orams it is only a brief reprieve for now, as an appeal is underway and pending the overcoming of the technical issues.

In addition, the decision re-affirmed a number of important legal points in Mr Apostolides' favour, including that the original Greek Cypriot owners of the land, such as Mr Apostolides - over 95% of the land in the occupied areas of Cyprus is either owned by Greek Cypriots or the Greek Orthodox church - remain the only legitimate title holders of that land and anyone buying or occupying their properties is guilty of trespass and can be sued.

It is therefore misconceived to view this as a victory for foreign purchasers of Greek Cypriot property in Occupied Cyprus. On the contrary it is in fact a victory for the original property owners who have had all of their property rights re-affirmed in an English court of law.

Therefore, anyone contemplating investing their hard earned savings on a holiday home in the Occupied Area would be advised to take note of the following points recognized by the English court in its Judgement:

(i) Greek Cypriots remain the legal title holders of their properties in the occupied northern areas of Cyprus which also remain within the Republic of Cyprus (and not the illegal so called "TRNC" which is not recognised by any other country other than Turkey) - as over 95% of the land in the Occupied Area is owned by Greek Cypriots or the Greek church, it is almost certain that any person purporting to sell land in the occupied areas will not have good title;

(ii) anyone illegally occupying property in the Occupied Area other than the lawful owners is guilty of trespass and can be sued in the Cyprus courts - the English Judgement has simply postponed enforcement of this particular judgement against the Orams. However, there are other avenues of enforcement available to Mr Apostolides. This judgement also does not prevent other Greek Cypriot land owners whose property is being illegally occupied from pursuing the illegal trespassers through the Cyprus courts, and enforcing them in the UK/EU;

(iii) the courts of the Republic of Cyprus have jurisdiction over all land within its territory, including the land within the Occupied Area - the "TRNC" remains an invalid and illegal regime without legal standing or authority;

(iv) the laws of the illegal "TRNC" cannot deprive the rightful Greek Cypriot owners of their title to their land - whatever steps the illegal "TRNC" has taken or will attempt to take either to expropriate the properties or to offer some form of compensation are and will always be legally invalid;

(v) the enforcement of such Cyprus Judgements is not contrary to English public policy and does not breach the human rights of the Orams (on the contrary, the Judge held that the only human rights which could apply were those of Mr Apostolides) - the Judge clearly held that the only human rights which applied were those of the wronged Greek Cypriot property owner, Mr Apostolides, and that the human rights of the Orams were not affected as they were and remained trespassers on Mr Apostolides' land. It should be recalled that almost 200,000 Greek Cypriots were ethnically cleansed from the Occupied Area in 1974. The Judge concluded that the human rights of the ethnically cleansed, quite understandably, were superior to those of the thieves.

Following this well publicised Judgement no one can now ever say that they were not aware that the Greek Cypriots still hold good and complete title to their land, and that those abusing those rights are trespassers and can be sued.

In short, anyone contemplating buying land or a holiday home in the occupied areas would be very well advised to spend their hard earned savings elsewhere since as the English High Court Judge has re-affirmed they will be guilty of the actionable tort of trespass as the only legitimate title holders to that land are the original Greek Cypriot owners who have been deprived of their land by the illegal Turkish occupying troops.