BACKGROUND OF THE CASE
Mr Apostolides, a Greek Cypriot, is a refugee from Lapithos in the Kyrenia district. Following the invasion of the northern area of Cyprus by Turkish troops in 1974, the Apostolides family fled to the Government-controlled area. In 2002 Mr and Mrs Orams, a British couple, purported to purchase Mr Apostolides’ land, from a third party. The Orams built a villa upon the land, which they occupy as a holiday home.
In 2004 and 2005 Mr Apostolides obtained two judgments against the Orams in the courts of the Republic of Cyprus. These judgments ordered Mr and Mrs Orams to cease trespassing on the land, deliver up possession of the land to Mr Apostolides, pay compensation, demolish the villa and fencing they had built on the land and pay certain sums to Mr Apostolides in relation to his costs.
Due to the practical impossibility of enforcing the judgments in the northern area, as a result of the presence of illegal occupying Turkish troops, Mr Apostolides sought to enforce them against the Orams in the Court of Appeal in England. European legislation, provides for the mutual recognition of judgments between Member States and enables such judgments of the courts of Member States to be enforced in the courts of other Member States. Unfortunately the English Court of Appeal, failed to enforce the judgements of the Cyprus courts and referred to the Court of Justice a number of questions concerning the interpretation and application of the Brussels Regulation, in particular, whether the suspension of Community law in the northern part of Cyprus and the fact that the land concerned is situated in an area over which the Government of Cyprus does not exercise effective control
EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE RULES IN FAVOUR OF MR APOSTOLIDES.
On 28 April 2009, The European Court of Justice upheld the rights of Mr Apostolodes, the legitimate owner of the property, purchased illegally by the Orams. The Court states that the land is situated in the territory of the Republic of Cyprus and, therefore, the Cypriot court had jurisdiction to decide the case. With this judgement the ECJ not only safeguarded the property rights of the Greek Cypriot refugees, but also confirmed beyond doubt the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus and reaffirmed once more the competence of the Republic’s authorities on the whole territory of Cyprus.
The decision is consistent with other precedents in the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, which has constantly ruled that the land and property in the occupied north still belongs to the Greek Cypriot refugees who were forced to flee following the 1974 invasion by Turkey.
It has been made plain by the courts that foreign buyers have no rights that take precedence over the legal title-deed holders but that if they take the risk that they will benefit from cheaper property then there is a serious risk that they will be pursued by the legitimate Greek Cypriot title holders who will be able to enforce their judgments against their assets in another EU member state.”
Ayios Amvrosios, always under the auspices of Lobby for Cyprus, have been warning Britons with Press releases and many other campaigns, not to buy land or property in the north for many years, not only because it is unethical to benefit from the suffering of displaced Greek Cypriot land and property owners, but because purchasers are very likely to lose all their investments.” Unfortunately the Orams and many other such ‘buyers’ chose to ignore the advise. Hopefully, this judgement and its massive coverage by the British and international press, will halt the illegal property transactions in the occupied area, and stop unscrupulous property developers and buyers profiting at the expense of the Refugees.
The British Court of Appeals finds in Favour of Mr Apostolides
THE SIGNIFIGANCE OF THE CASE
The significance of this judgement is immense, not only from a legal perspective but also in terms of confidence building in our struggle to reclaim our stolen homes and to end the illegal occupation of the north part of Republic of Cyprus. It has shown us that if we pursue our rights with determination and passion, as Mr Apostolides and his legal team headed by Mr Konstantis Kantounas did, we can find justice.
Let’ us all refugees, go ahead with confidence and positive approach, and we will achieve our ultimate goal, which is to rid Cyprus of the Turkish military occupation, oppression and control.
THANK YOU MR APOSTOLIDES AND MR KANDOUNAS.