London ruling on North Cyprus land claim could open way for more legal action

by Ray Clancy on January 26, 2010

British expats in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus could face claims on their property  after a London judge ruled definitively that one couple must demolish their home, give the land back to the original Cypriot owner and pay him compensation. English couple David and Linda Orams appealed against the decision originally made by courts in Nicosia and backed by the European Court of Justice and took their case to the UK Court of Appeal.

Lord Justice Pill though upheld the original decision. Now they have left their home in Cyprus and are living with friends while they try to comply with the ruling. They face difficulties because the TRNC does not recognise the court ruling and officials say they will not demolish the villa.

If the Orams do not comply, however, the British court could order the sale of their home in Britain to pay compensation to original owner Meletious Apostolides whose costs are estimated at €1 million.

Now thousands of foreign property owners in northern Cyprus who bought land which once belonged to Cypriots forced to flee after the invasion by Turkey in 1974, could face legal action, according to industry experts.

The London ruling could serve as a precedent as the United Nations regards 78% of the land in the north as Greek Cypriot property. ‘This creates a new legal framework in cases where foreigners are trespassing on such properties,’ said Constantis Candounas, Apostolides’ lawyer. He added, however, that ‘each case must be decided on its own particular facts’.

The UK judgment also said that European courts should recognise and implement decisions taken in the courts of the internationally recognised republic, which is an EU member. Since the London court gave Apostolides the option of securing redress in the UK, this could be applied to other cases lodged in the EU.

According to the ruling, non-recognition by EU courts of decisions taken by a court of an EU member could have negative consequences. The Orams’ counsel Cherie Booth, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, argued in court that a decision against the Orams could jeopardize ongoing reunification negotiations between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders. This though was dismissed by the court.

Serden Hoca, a member of the Turkish Cypriot committee which discusses the property issue in extensive negotiations to merge the island, said about 10,000 foreigners reside in the occupied areas, of which 5,000 own property. Of those, 90% are British. The UK Foreign Office advises British citizens that buying property in the TRNC is fraught with problems. ‘The ownership of many properties is disputed in northern Cyprus, with many thousands of claims to ownership of properties from people displaced during the events of 1974. Purchase of these properties could have serious financial and legal implications,’ it says on its website.

Hoca said it was possible Greek Cypriots may be encouraged by the outcome of the case to consider taking action for property they have lost. Turkish Cypriot officials said that there is no need for panic and gave assurances to the approximate 15,000 British residents who purchased property and live in the North.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

christine February 6, 2010 at 10:54 pm

"Greek Cypriots may be encouraged by the outcome of the case to consider taking action for property they have lost. "

Here, here so they should!! This invasion was not a "war" it was an invasion' period. The greek cypriots had no defense and they were set upon by barbaric soldiers without warning and fled their homes or were killed. This is a fact and all these years later no resolution and no hope that these individuals can return to live in their homes. How dare the turkish republic think it can capitilise on this atrocity and sell off someone elses property. I am disgusted that the likes of Cherie Blair could even contemplate supporting the illegal sale of property that does NOT belong to the turkish republic. The British supporting this claim should be ashamed of themselves. Let us not fool ourselves into trying to justify the sale of property in the Nthrn part of cyprus, its clearly WRONG any way you look at it!

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mike viney June 8, 2012 at 11:55 am

this is biased and uniformed rubbish. The greeks started the whole thing . suggest you look up the history regarding Makarios and th Eaoka terrorist groups that tried to drive the turkish cypriots off the island murdering many innocent people. the Turkish cypriot people tried to fight back back and were saved when the turkish army intervened (not invaded as many would have you believe) to rescue them. You should get your facts right before making wild statements

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Anthony Joseph May 1, 2010 at 4:50 am

Hi
I wonder if you could help me. My family has property in Northern Cyprus.We have the dded with us and we had also gone to look at the land. I don’t know exactly where it is 100%, but however to cut a long story short.
The part portion of out land which is in Northern Cyprus oul name aji Marina Skilouius ,Is now occupied by the Turkish army .Question can I get compensated for out land with the new treaty which was passed May 2004.
Which states that if state has your property ,The Turkish government will compensate you. How can I go about this.
Best Regards
Anthony Joseph

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Loulou Ktorides July 18, 2010 at 8:56 am

Hi Anthony, My family has property on the Northern side too. I am interested in selling it for me. Its located at Vavilas on the beach of Kyrenia. Thank goodness its land. Could you please email me what treaty was passed in May 2004. Also could you and if you already havnt found out how do we go about selling it. There is no way in the world we would ever go to live on that side.
thks and regards My email is [email protected]
Loulou Ktorides
Sydney Australia

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Anthony Joseph February 20, 2011 at 7:31 am

Why are the Cypriots suffering .All over the world human rights foundations are forcing governments in giving peoples land back. How come nothing in Northern Cyprus is done even just to compensate people that lost their land .South Africa with Nelson Mandela peace was worked out and a new nation revealed itself .We were forced out of our homes with no one to help us. If I can even plead to the Turkish people what have I ever done to any of you. I had live in South Africa most of my life because of what happened to our land in Northern Cyprus .We became poor due to this incident ,We could not return back to our land, not even get any computation yet we live in a world the even Nelson Mandela came out of prison to become president of South Africa .I am appealing to all the people that has ever lost some land and has got it back to help us ex Cypriots to get our land back or to get computation from the Turkish Government .They have a military base on my Grandmother’s house which is also part of the land I Owen. Please any form of human rights of their help us I am begging the western world and the EU to show us you do really care

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Liz Constantinou January 17, 2012 at 10:49 am

Hi there, My family have land in the northern part of Cyprus (with deeds) for which my grandfather once had many houses for his family. He built them all himself for thier dowry's but they had to flee and left everything behind. This story is ever so familiar and breaks my heart when I read other people's posts. It certainly is not forgotten and now my mum and her siblings are at an age where they feel some sort of justice should be done, I was wondering if someone could advise me as to how to go about selling this land legally or claiming compensation. The land they own in is in Kalo Horio, Lefka. A vast amount of land from what I hear and as they have no intention opf ever returning, it feels right and just to finally put a close to this and stand up for the lifetime acheivement of thier father who himslef was robbed of land, rights and his country. As an old man, he came to England and started life again.

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George Georgiou October 1, 2014 at 12:21 am

A lot of you that own land on the north, need to understand that it is dead land, Unless the British and the Americans open their mouth and tell the Turkish government to give it all back to the rightful owners.
Know we have the Russens involved we have three big superpowers that have interest in Cyprus, it not worth tiring to sell it because it will cost you a lot of money to start the ball rolling and the chance of selling the land is very slim.
And the longer the politicians take to solve this, the more chance of losing your land, or just given it up.
I believe the British were guarantors at the time and they owed Cyprus a lot of money, and they did not want to pay, could it be the reason why this happen, If so it is the British government that should take full responsibility for our losses and give the land also the property owners compensation, or make the Turkish that have settle on stolen land move back to Turkey.
The Problem we have in Cyprus the Greek government don’t want to upset the British and the Americans and you can’t blame them.

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