Linda and David Orams - Decision of the UK Court of Appeal
North Cyprus Orams
19 January 2010 - Decision of the UK Court of Appeal in the Orams Case
Wellington Estates Ltd have followed the Orams case and reported on all the proceedings. Readers who have not followed the case, or who may wish to read background information, will find a wealth of material on our website. The list of web pages is at the top of this page. This page refers only to the ruling of the UK Court of Appeal, delivered on 19 January 2010.
Although full details are awaited, the Court of Appeal has ruled that judgments emanating from the Greek Republic of Cyprus in south Nicosia should be registered in the UK.
The aforesaid judgments comprise the following directions to Linda and David Orams–
Will the house at Lapta be demolished ?
1. They should deliver possession of the land in Lapta on which they have built a house to Meletis Apostolides and cease their occupation of the land.
2. They should demolish the house they have built on the land.
3. They should pay rent to Mr Apostolides for the period of time during which they occupied the land.
In addition, it is likely that Linda and David Orams will be ordered to reimburse Mr Apostolides's legal costs
When the case was heard in the UK Court of Appeal in November 2009, the Orams legal team made three main points –
First, the case is not a simple matter of a private dispute between two parties, it clearly has an element of public policy. Consequently, the simplistic treatment of this case by the ECJ is questionable. The public policy dimension is based on the fact that the land allegedly owned by Mr Apostolides was appropriated by the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) after the partition of Cyprus in 1974. We understand that the land now has the benefit of TRNC title deeds, issued to Linda and David Orams. Therefore, the heart of the case is an attack by the Greek Republic of Cyprus against land title deeds issued by the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. Messrs Apostolides and Orams are simply pawns in a larger game.
Lord Justice Pill allegedly stated "To proceed from that acceptance to accepting a proposition that United Kingdom courts should treat it as manifestly contrary to public policy in the United Kingdom to enforce the obligation under Community law to register judgments of courts in Cyprus is a very large step."
In other words, he is stating that although the public policy element of the dispute is noted and accepted, this element is not considered strong enough to justify a refusal to recognize the rulings of the Greek Cypriot court.
Yes My Lord, it is a very large step to recognise the overwhelming weight of the public policy dimension, but the evidence suggests that a large step is warranted. Namely -
1. The disputed land has two sets of Title Deeds. One set was issued some considerable time ago during the British Adminsitration of Cyprus and is recognised by the Greek Republic of Cyprus. The other set of deeds was issued by the TRNC.
2. The legal costs alone discredit the claim that this is a legal dispute between two private parties, namely Meletis Apostolides vs Linda & David Orams. We estimate that both sides have incurred more than £1 million in costs to date, and our information is that these costs have been borne by the real protagonists in the case namely the Greek Republic of Cyprus and the TRNC.
Second, Cherie Blair argued that the ruling of the ECJ could not be considered impartial due to the involvement of the ruling ECJ President Vassilios Skouris, whom she alleges is biased in favour of the Greek Cypriot side. Mr Skouris received the Grand Collar of Makarios from the Greek Republic of Cyprus in 2006, which is an honour reserved for persons who have given service to the Republic of Cyprus. Ms Blair also named several prominent members of the Republic of Cyprus government with whom Mr Skouris allegedly enjoys close links. Further, she claimed that he has regularly met with other dispossessed Greek Cypriots during recent years and offered them support and assistance.
Lord Justice Pill allegedly stated "The perception of the reasonable and informed observer would be, as is my perception, that there was no real possibility that the President (of the ECJ) would be influenced by the honour he received or by his other contacts. The judgment of the court is in no way tarnished by those contacts, considered either individually or cumulatively."
Lord Justice Pill has an impecable reputation as an erudite and impartial judge. He can perhaps be forgiven for assuming that all members of the legal profession adhere to his own high standards.
Thirdly, it was argued that an adverse ruling against the Orams would effectively derail the delicate negotiations which are ongoing between Presidents Demetris Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat. These negotiations aim to reunite the island
Lord Justice Pill made it clear at the beginning of his judgment that nothing in the ruling could be taken to indicate "an acceptance of or a comment upon the legitimacy of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus".
Lord Justice Pill is scrupulous in his desire to remain free of political bias, and rightly so. However, in this case, political neutrality is extremely dificult. By confirming the authority of the Greek Cypriot courts over land they do not administer in North Cyprus, he is by definition denying the authority and even perhaps the very existence of the TRNC as a legitimate and lawfully constituted jurisdiction. This is a far cry from the days of Tony Blair when it was promised that the UK government would take steps to end the economic isolation of North Cyprus. The Blair rhetoric is a dim and distant memory, the main legacy of which is his wife's representation of the Oram's case. This has led to the enrichment of Ms Cherie Booth QC, despite losing the case, and the impoverishment of the TRNC.
Meletis Apostolides and his lawyer Constantis Candounas
Implications for Linda and David Orams
Unless they comply with the directions of the Greek Cypriot court, Mr Apostolides can use the UK court system to enforce the judgment. In other words, he can claim damages against the Orams' assets in the UK, notably their house in Hove, Brighton. This is the real agenda for the Greek Cypriot claim as no court has the practical power to enforce a judgment within north Cyprus, other than the TRNC courts.
Implications for the other 5,000 plus UK owners of property in the TRNC
Based on this precedent, dispossessed Greeks, or their heirs, can issue writs in the court of south Nicosia against UK residents in North Cyprus. If the Greek Cypriot court rules in their favour, then the adverse judgment could be registered in the UK and any assets which the UK residents may hold in the UK are at risk.
1. The ruling is possibly the end of a long legal battle which started in 2002. Although Meletis Apostolides has won, it is a hollow victory for the Greek Cypriots. The fact that Linda and David Orams may feel obliged to demolish their house in Lapta, and leave the land does not mean that the land will be returned to Meletis Apostolides. The land has the benefit of TRNC title deeds, in favour of the Orams. This fact is not altered by a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling nor that of the UK Court of Appeal. Therefore, although they may demolish the house and quit the land, it will be extremely difficult for them to deliver it to Mr Apostolides.
2. Even if the Orams do their best to comply with the judgments, it is not conceivable that Mr Apostolides will take possession of the land, build a house, and reside there. If he attempted this, his health and life expectancy would seriously suffer.
3. Although other dispossessed heirs of Greek land could follow this example, the process is complex and costly. Unless claims are backed by the Greek Republic of Cyprus, very few will find their way to UK courts. It is likely that a series of similar claims will follow, as the Greek Cypriots will wish to exploit the positive publicity attached to such activities.
4. Any UK owner of a north Cyprus property who becomes a victim of attack by a Greek Cypriot court should take immediate steps to protect his worldwide assets by either disposing or transferring UK or EU assets to other persons at an early date. In other words, Linda and David Orams could ignore the rulings of both the ECJ and the Court of Appeal provided they dispose of their UK assets with immediate effect.
1. The negotiations between Presidents Christofias and Talat, which have dragged on without any tangible sign of progress, are discredited by this ruling. Although we take the view that President Talat entered into negotiations in good faith, and has displayed both statemanship and patience, his team have been outmanoeuvred and outsmarted by the Greek Cypriots. He will unfortunately now come under attack in TRNC, and any new TRNC president will be far less accommodating to the Greek Cypriots.
2. This ruling shows, in stark terms, the folly of including the island of Cyprus in the enlarged EU of 2004. The island of Cyprus joined the EU, despite the fact that the Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan Plan. The Greek Cypriot administration was recognised as the legitimate authority for the whole island. Although the Greek Cypriots do not administer north Cyprus, a partisan and unrepresentative court in south Nicosia can issue judgments on matters over which it has no control and more importantly no mandate, in north Cyprus. Other courts in the EU, including the UK, will then recognise and enforce these judgments.
3. This anomalous situation will be found intolerable by Turkish Cypriots, not to mention UK residents of TRNC. Negotiations aimed at reuniting the island will collapse, and the Turkish Cypriots will adopt a different approach. This will be assimilation into Turkey.
4. If the TRNC becomes a de facto province of Turkey, then the accession of Turkey into the EU will become unlikely. This would be welcomed by France, Germany and, of course, Greece and the Greek Republic of Cyprus. However, it will be deeply regretted by the USA who rely heavily on Turkey for both overt and covert assistance in pursuit of their Middle East strategy.
Edward Heath - Is he to blame ?
5. Since 1066, the British have successfully repelled foreign rule and invaders. The twentieth century was a disaster. There were two wars against Germany in order to preserve the independence of Poland, France etc. At the end of the war, Poland was occupied by the USSR until 1989 and liberated France immediately reprised its historic emnity towards the UK. Edward Heath made major concessions to France and Germany in order to take the UK into the European Economic Community in 1973, after two applications were vetoed by De Gaulle in 1963 and 1967. During the century, the greatest empire the world has ever known was dismantled without hardly a shot being fired, due to the decadence of the British ruling class who, together with the media, have fed the public a daily diet of international socialism, materialism, consumerism and sensuality which continues to this day.
This case demonstrates how the UK and UK law is now subordinate to the EU. In 2006 Mr Justice Jack refused the registration of the Greek Cypriot judgment in the UK. However, he felt obliged to grant Mr Meletis leave to appeal. Once advice and guidance was sought from the EU, the case was then effectively handed over to the European Court of Justice, whose ruling was predictable. What is regretable is the failure of the UK Court of Appeal to use the public policy element as a justification for refusing to register the unjust judgment in the UK.
It has been argued previously that this is a hollow victory for the Greek Cypriots. It is also a pyrrhic victory. They will wish to exploit this ruling in order to destabilise the TRNC property market and the economy in general. They will also wish to repeat the political scoop by bringing further cases to UK courts. This will be an irresistible temptation (ακαταμάχητος πειρασμός). By so doing, they will destroy the prospect of a reunited island and push the Turkish Cypriots towards their only true friend, that is, mother Turkey.
Mr Apostolides is unlikely to ever take possession of the land in Lapta and nor will any other Greek Cypriot who follows his example. The TRNC will abandon any hope of a negotiated settlement with the Greek Cypriots and will turn towards Turkey. The humiliating decline of the UK will continue.
Mr Candounas has given notice that he will extend his activities to include pursuing tourists who have visited North Cyprus, and in particular those who stayed at the Dome Hotel.
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 – 19 January 2009