Demopoulos, Nezire and Orams
North Cyprus Orams
1 April 2010- Takis Demopoulos, Sofi Nezire, Linda and David Orams
The dust has not settled on the implications of the UK Court of Appeal ruling in favour of Meletis Apostolides and against Linda and David Orams when the legal convolutions of Cyprus herald a new era for the settlement of claims by dispossessed persons.
On 5 March 2010, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in favour of the Turkish proposal that that Greek Cypriots should first resort to the legal remedies available in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC), prior to submitting a claim to the ECHR.
ECHR building looks like a space station - Should it be relocated on the Moon ?
The ECHR considered the case of Takis Demopoulos and 7 other similar claims. It ruled that the TRNC Immovable Property Commission (IPC) was an effective, fair and appropriate body to adjudicate on these and similar claims.
The IPC was established in response to claims brought to the ECHR by Greek Cypriots, and was viewed favourably by the ECHR during the Myra Xenides-Arestis case, even though the case was not transferred to the Immovable Property Commission.
This means that the backlog of some 1,500 cases lodged by Greek Cypriots at the ECHR for compensation due to the alleged loss of their land in North Cyprus have been removed from the lists of the ECHR. From now on, applications will only be entertained by the ECHR if the applicant can demonstrate that local remedies have been explored and found unsatisfactory.
1. This ruling is welcomed by the TRNC as recognition of the Immovable Property Commission is viewed as a stepping stone towards international recognition of the TRNC as a legally constituted and separate state from the (Greek) Republic of Cyprus. However, the ruling was made in favour of Turkey, and not the TRNC.
2. This means that settlements agreed by applicants and the IPC will have international legal validity. So, if an applicant accepts compensation or alternative land then he has surrendered all rights to the claimed property.
3. The ruling is curious in that the European Court of Justice advised the UK Court of Appeal that the Apostolides vs Orams case was essentially a commercial matter between two private parties, and that there was no public policy dimension. This devalued if not made void the validity and currency of TRNC issued property title deeds. The ECHR ruling moves in the opposite direction and confers legitimacy on the IPC, despite the fact that the Greek Republic of Cyprus does not recognise the body.
The implications of this development within the context of the Linda and David Orams case are intriguing. The Orams case is considered draconian in so far as a Greek Cypriot can bring a case against the ‘current user' of a North Cyprus property, albeit with the benefit of TRNC title deeds, and should the Greek Republic of Cyprus court in South Nicosia rule in his favour, then the claimant can immediately seek to register and subsequently enforce the judgment in any other EU jurisdiction. As the Orams have assets in the UK, then the applicant, Meletis Apostolides, sought to register the judgment in the UK, and was successful.
In the Orams case, there were few arguments of weight which their lawyers, including Cherie Blair, could use to counter the application for registration of the judgment in the UK. However, the Demopoulos case provides a powerful counter argument. As the ECHR has ruled that applications should be channeled to the IPC, an applicant who ignores this directive will not be heard by the ECHR and, by implication, should not be granted judgment by any other inferior court in the EU.
So, even if an applicant succeeds in persuading a Greek Cypriot court in South Nicosia to grant judgment against a UK owner / current user of lost land in North Cyprus, it is by no means certain that a UK court will be prepared to register the judgment on a summary basis. A UK court will be mindful of the Demopoulos ruling and will probably recommend any applicant to consider the same.
It is therefore highly unlikely that any other UK purchaser of North Cyprus property will be subjected to the nightmare experience which Linda and David Orams have endured since 2004.
Ms Sofi Nezire is an 85 year old Turkish Cypriot who does not live in Cyprus and applied to the ECHR for compensation in respect of loss of access and use of her property in the Greek Republic of Cyprus . The case is similar to the landmark Titina Loizidou vs Turkey case, apart from the fact that Sofi Nezire is a Turkish Cypriot who was making a claim against the Greek Republic of Cyprus.
The case was settled by the Greek Republic of Cyprus prior to the ECHR making a ruling. The settlement will pay Sofi Nezire EU 500,000 for the loss of use of one and a half houses in Larnaca in which Greek Cypriots are living. Equally significant was a pledge by the Greek Republic of Cyprus to amend the law which allowed the government to administer the properties and lands of dispossessed Turkish Cypriots.
1. The Guardian Law has frozen the assets of all Turkish Cypriots and prohibited dealings in that property. A promise was made that the Guardian Law would be amended so that Turkish Cypriots living away from Cyprus, or residing not in the north, but in the south, could return to and regain control and use of their property and land. Sofi Nezire will benefit from this amendment.
Larnaca Airport could be reclaimed by the Turkish Cypriot landowner
2. There are many examples of land in South Cyprus in public or private use, but remains administered by the Guardian Law, which recognises Turkish Cypriot ownership. The most famous is the entire site of the old Larnaca airport and a good part of the new airport. The Turkish Cypriot owner apparently lives in Larnaca and is allegedly receiving a generous monthly ‘rent' from the Greek Republic of Cyprus, lest he seeks to reclaim his lost land.
3. The implications of this could be far reaching. However, it should be noted that the exemption from the law does not apply to Turkish Cypriots living in the TRNC. There are, nonetheless, a large number who live in the UK, and these could now seek to reclaim their property in South Cyprus.
4. The situation is anomalous in that dispossessed Greek Cypriots are directed to apply to the Immovable Property Commission, and may fail to gain restitution, whereas dispossessed Turkish Cypriots are supposedly guaranteed restitution in South Cyprus upon presentation of documents demonstrating legal title.
At Wellington Estates, we only build on land which we ourselves own. At present we have 4 development sites in TRNC. Each site has been paid for from our own funds, and we make extensive enquiries into the history of land before making a purchase. We are so confident in the integrity of the land we own that we can provide our customers with a LAND GUARANTEE. This guarantee means that, in the highly unlikely event of a challenge by a Greek Cypriot claimant, Wellington will settle any compensation claim or provide a full customer refund.
To learn more about this GUARANTEE OF SECURITY, please contact us.
Copyright © Leslie Hardy – Largo, Florida, 1 April 2010