Linda and David Orams vs Meletis Apostolides
North Cyprus Orams
14 November 2009
UK Court of Appeal
20 June 2007 - The UK Court of Appeal hearing was chaired by Lord Phillips, with Ms Cherie Booth (aka Blair) acting for the Orams.
Lord Phillips succeeded Lord Woolf as Lord Chief Justice in 2005. Celebrated cases include the Maxwell Pension Fund Fraud, General Pinochet's extradition hearing and the BSE inquiry report.
On the first day of the hearing, Lord Phillips stated from the outset that certain points would be referred to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg for legal clarification. Further details of the precise points are awaited.
However, the main issue remains the concept of enforceability of a ruling made in one EU member state for other EU member state judiciaries. This point is covered by EU Regulation 44/2001.
The aim of this regulation is to clarify and simplify procedures whereby a judgment, made in one member state, can be registered in another. For example, if a person is a debtor in one country, but has moved all his assets to another member state, then there should be a simple procedure whereby the original judgment can be enforced in the member state where the debtor has placed his assets.
This aim is articulated concisely in Section 1, Article 33 -
A judgment given in a Member State shall be recognised in the other Member States without any special procedure being required.
Although all EU states have accepted this regulation, there are major hurdles in implementation. This is due to the fact that judicial principles and processes differ markedly across member states. The enlargement of the EU has compounded this problem. What this means in practice is that the process of registering, and hence enforcing judgments made in one member state in other member state, where for example a person is domiciled or where they have assets, is never a simple matter.
It would appear that Lord Phillips request for clarification and guidance will initiate an EU wide series of consultations on the issue of enforceability of judgments. This process could well take several years and fail to have a definitive outcome.
The central issue which caused the failure of the initial application to register the Greek Republic of Cyprus (GROC) judgment appears to have been sidestepped. This is the admission by the GROC government that North Cyprus is an area which is effectively outside its control. This anomalous situation was formalised by Protocol 10 of the Treaty of Accession 2003, whereby Cyprus joined the EU. In the author's opinion, this clause will prove crucial in the eventual determination of the case.
The exuberance in the GROC is unjustified, although the involvement of EU legal process is guaranteed to prolong the issue. This is perhaps in GROC eyes an achievement in itself as it keeps the dispute alive and will deter some UK citizens from purchasing a holiday home in North Cyprus.
Although full details of the request to Luxembourg are awaited, the matter can be likened to a game of Pass the Parcel, in which a parcel is passed round until the music stops: at which point it is opened. The difference is that, in this case, the music may well play on for ever. This will enrich lawyers, but continue the stress and worry experienced by David and Linda Orams. The author's present opinion is that, at some stage, the TRNC Property Commission will be invited to participate in the proceedings. Based on the way the European Court of Human Rights dealt with the Myra Xenides-Arestis case, this is a likely EU response. The TRNC Property Commission could quickly resolve the issue by offering the dispossessed applicant, Meletis Apostolides, equivalent land in the TRNC and perhaps a modicum of compensation. It should be noted that Mr Apostolides could have made a direct application to the Property Commission himself, but that would not have given the GROC a world platform on which to parade their grievance at the loss of the 'occupied lands' of North Cyprus.
Update 15 July 2007
The list of queries has now been forwarded to the EU. There appears to be five items to be considered. In a pathetic attempt to score publicity points, both sides are claiming that the points they articulated have formed the basis of the submission to the EU. The content of the five points remains uncertain and unpublicised, although the points covered in this article are the substantive issues. Both sides have indicated that the matter could take several years to resolve. In the meantime, it should be noted that the initial judgment in favour of the Orams stands.
Copyright - Leslie Hardy, 20 June 2007