Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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22 January 2010
Trespassers beware
Apostolides v Orams English Court of Appeal upholds Greek Cypriot property rights against Illegal trespassers in occupied area of Cyprus.

Apostolides v Orams
English Court of Appeal upholds Greek Cypriot property rights against Illegal trespassers in occupied area of Cyprus.

On 19 January 2010, the Court of Appeal in London delivered a landmark judgment with seismic implications for those who have invested in property illegally built on Greek Cypriot land in the occupied north of Cyprus. In the landmark case of Apostolides v Orams the Court held that a judgment of the Republic of Cyprus courts in respect of Greek Cypriot land situated in the occupied area was fully enforceable within the EU against assets owned by those illegally trespassing on Greek Cypriot property.

Anyone who has bought and lived in the thousands of illegal developments on Greek Cypriot owned land in the occupied area is now at serious risk of being sued by the legitimate owners and having to pay to them hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages as well as being forced to demolish the properties they think they own. But of most significance is the fact that their assets anywhere in the EU will now be targeted.
The consequences of this decision are far reaching. Anyone who has bought and lived in the thousands of illegal developments on Greek Cypriot owned land in the occupied area is now at serious risk of being sued by the legitimate owners and having to pay to them hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages as well as being forced to demolish the properties they think they own. But of most significance is the fact that their assets anywhere in the EU will now be targeted. So where a Briton has a home in the UK but has also ‘bought’ a holiday home in occupied Cyprus he stands to lose his property here to pay the damages for his illegal trespass overseas. Buyers will now think several times before investing in stolen property even if to date they have been prepared to turn a blind eye. This decision has therefore sounded the death knell to the illegal developments in the occupied area and will thwart Turkey’s plan to concrete over the occupied north of Cyprus in its attempt to complete the ethnic cleansing of the occupied area. But it has even wider repercussions. It is not just purchasers of property who are trespassers. What about tourists holidaying in hotels, villas and apartments on Greek Cypriot owned land? What about international banks and corporations who have set up branches in the occupied north of Cyprus on Greek Cypriot land? They are all now within the reach of the legitimate Greek Cypriot land owner.

The decision reaffirms once again a number of important points of principle that Lobby for Cyprus has consistently impressed upon decision-makers. It has confirmed that Turkey’s presence in Cyprus is as a result of an illegal invasion, it has reaffirmed that the Greek Cypriot registered title owners remain the lawful owners of their property from which they were ethnically cleansed in 1974 and it has confirmed that the rule of law prevails. Indeed the Court of Appeal felt it necessary to state unequivocally that no government policy would prevail over the rule of law, in this case that the rights of Greek Cypriot property owners should prevail. It also reminded the UK government that it is legally obliged under the Treaty of Guarantee “to respect the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and non-alignment of the Republic of Cyprus” and that this, together with other provisions of International law, precludes any recognition whatsoever of the illegal administration.

In confirming the enforcement of this Cyprus judgment, the Court of Appeal could almost have been quoting the words of Socrates as recorded by Plato when he said “do you imagine that a city can continue to exist and not be turned upside down, if the legal judgments which are pronounced in it have no force but are nullified by private persons?”

In short, this landmark decision puts an end to any attempts to pressurise the displaced Greek Cypriots from giving up any of their property rights in occupied Cyprus. There is no doubt that further legal action will be forthcoming against any individual or entity which has abused or continues to abuse Greek Cypriot rights in the occupied part of Cyprus.