Court ruling serves as warning for expatriates

A decision made in the UK Court of Appeal entails that decisions made in Cyprus courts are to be upheld and registered in the United Kingdom. This will have strong repercussions for those who own properties in Cyprus.

The UK court of appeal passed a ruling that ordered a British couple to return their northern Cyprus home to the original owners, who had been forced to leave it behind during the Turkish invasion of 1974. The judgment, which acts as a statute accepting all decisions of the Republic of Cyprus courts, also entails that any appeals to higher court will not be permitted.

Linda and David Orams, who originally lost a court case in 2004, were previously ordered to demolish the house, pay compensation for rent and vacate the land that had been built on the land of Greek Cypriot Meletis Apostolides. However, because the ruling was largely unenforceable in Northern Cyprus, the Orams ignored the ruling and remained within the property. Apostolides turned to the British High Court, asking them to enforce EU law. The British Court yesterday ruled that the EU law should be applied in Northern Cyprus and that the original ruling of the Cyprus courts should be executed.

Apostolides, talking to the press, said he was pleased, stating that the ruling was “a vindication of the institutions and the values of the European Union.”

In a press statement the Orams stated that the verdict was a blow to them:

“The result is very disappointing and a blow to us but we will not let it ruin our lives.

We believe that we unwittingly became entangled in an extremely complex political situation, the dispute between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities over property in Cyprus.

We know that the ruling will also be of great concern to the many foreign property-owners in Cyprus.

We will study the Judgment and consider whether there is anything further to be done. Failing that, we will have to take steps, as far as possible given the political situation in Cyprus, to comply with the Judgment.

We continue to believe that only a political settlement can resolve the property issue and we hope that the Judgment will not undermine that process.”

The judgment will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on the Cypriot property market, which has already experienced issues over recent years. In 2006, property boom entailed that local authorities were unable to efficiently administer title deed applications resulting in many expatriates being unable to prove evidence of property ownership. Nigel Howarth, owner of UK expatriate website,, said the ruling would be of concern to those in a similar position to the Orams with properties in northern Cyprus. He added that the situation might encourage buyers to centre their house search efforts in the south:

“The UK Government does warn people against buying property in Northern Cyprus so I believe the Orams took this risk knowing very well what they were getting into,” said Howarth.

“However, this ruling could act as a positive for southern Cyprus which has witnessed a tremendous fall in overseas buyers. As there is not a property price index here it is hard accurately equate but property prices have suffered greatly due to the drop in overseas buyers.

“In Pathos, which had been the most popular destination for UK and other overseas buyers, we have seen sales slump by around 73% from its peak.”