Linda and David Orams - The UK Court of Appeal
North Cyprus Orams
13 November 2009
UK Court of Appeal
13 November 2009 - Hearing at the UK Court of Appeal
This hearing follows the ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in April 2009. The ECJ ruled that the verdict of the Greek Cypriot Court which found in favour of Mr Meletis Apostolides against Linda and David Orams should be withheld by other EU courts.
The purpose of the hearing in the UK Court of Appeal was to determine whether the ECJ ruling should be applied by the UK courts.
The ruling of the Greek Cypriot Court was that Linda and David Orams should demolish the house they had built on land in Lapta which was allegedly previously occupied and owned by Mr Meletis Apostolides and his antecedents. If this ruling is recognised in the UK, and if the Orams do not comply with the ruling, then Mr Apostolides would be given leave to seek damages against the house owned by Linda and David Orams in Brighton.
Mr Apostolides, the Claimant, was represented by the Greek Cypriot lawyer Mr Constantis Candounas who has handled the case since 2005 and has become a pundit and celebrity in Greek Cypriot circles.
Linda and David Orams, the Defendants, were represented by Ms Cherie Booth QC and Mr Nicholas Green QC, both from Brick Court Chambers.
There were a number of arguments put forward by the Defendants.
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.
Linda and David Orams, with supporters
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.
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
Also during last week, The UK Prime Minister, Mr Gordon Brown, met with President Christofias and advised him that an offer had been made to the UN to make available around 50% of the land administered by the UK at Akrotiri and Dhekelia and used as military bases. The offer is conditional on a reunification of Cyprus.
Mr Brown evidently thought that his meeting with President Christofias during the same week as the Court of Appeal hearing would be a useful contribution. However, he has been severely criticised by the Turkish Cypriot press for his apparent endorsement of Mr Christofias who by his own admission admires Fidel Castro.
The UK Court of Appeal will now consider the arguments and an outcome is expected during January or February 2010. This is unlikely to be the ‘knock out' blow demanded by the Greek Cypriot side. However, the mere continuation of this high profile case and the attendant publicity serves the Greek aim to destabilise the North Cyprus property market and to deter British persons from purchasing holiday homes in the TRNC.
Readers who have followed this saga since 2005 are likely to share our own opinion that the arguments put forward by Linda and David Orams have weight and that the whole matter of property rights for dispossessed persons in both North and South Cyprus should be part of a broader political settlement. On this basis, if the UK Court of Appeal refers the matter back to the ECJ for further consideration, this would be a welcome and constructive outcome.
The intervention of Mr Gordon Brown is simply bizarre. Meeting with the Greek Cypriot leader at such a sensitive time understandably aroused the anger of Turkish Cypriots. His offer of British land as an inducement for a political settlement is demeaning to both communities, and hardly of any significance to either side.
Due to the ongoing Orams' case, it is vital that prospective purchasers seek protection from any adverse claims from dispossessed Greek Cypriots. The average Estate Agent is unable to research the large number of properties on his books and usually has no information on the history of land on which his properties are built.
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 – 14 November 2009