PRESS RELEASE: Judgment of the European Court of Justice in Case C-420/07 Meletis Apostolides V. David Charles Orams & Linda Elizabeth Orams – April 27, 2009
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on April 27, 2009, that a judgment of a Court in the Republic of Cyprus must be recognized and enforced by all other EU member states even if it concerns land situated in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus. The ECJ ruling stated that the suspension of the application of European Union law in the areas where the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control and the fact that the judgment of a Cypriot Court cannot, as a practical matter, be enforced in the occupied areas, do not preclude the application of Council Regulation No 44/2001 (Brussels I Regulation) and thus the recognition and the enforcement of the Cypriot Court judgments in another EU Member State. In this landmark judgment, the ECJ reaffirms the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus and the competence of the Republic’s authorities on the whole territory of Cyprus and proves yet once again the undeniable right of all Greek-Cypriot dispossessed owners to their properties in the occupied areas, in spite of the illegal Turkish occupation since 1974 and the fact that the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control in those areas.
Foreign Minister Kyprianou stated in the aftermath of the decision that the ECJ ruling interprets the European law correctly and has two main aspects: that Protocol 10 can suspend the implementation of the European acquis communautaire in the occupied areas of Cyprus but this does not mean that rulings of Cypriot courts concerning the occupied areas will not be implemented in the rest of the EU member states. He also noted that with its ruling the Court has recognized the jurisdiction of the Republic of Cyprus and its courts to the occupied areas as well as the property rights of the Cypriot citizens as EU citizens, and the potential they have to claim this right.
The Court’s ruling refers to the Meletios Apostolides v. David and Linda Orams case, which came about after Mr. Apostolides filed in 2004 a civil lawsuit at a Republic of Cyprus Court against Mr. and Mrs. Orams (British nationals) for illegally occupying and using his property in the occupied areas of Cyprus. In its judgment, the Nicosia District Court found Mr. and Mrs. Orams liable for trespass in the property of Mr. Apostolides and ordered them to demolish the villa and other buildings erected on the property, surrender vacant possession to Mr. Apostolides who is the rightful owner of the property and pay him damages. Mr. Apostolides sought the registration and execution of the Cyprus judgment in the British High Court on the basis of the Brussels I Regulation, but in its judgment of September 2006 the British Court avoided getting involved in enforcing the Cyprus judgment. Subsequently, Mr. Apostolides lodged an Appeal against the judgment of the British High Court and in June 2007 the Court of Appeal of England and Wales decided to ask the interpretative intervention of the ECJ. In its judgment yesterday, the ECJ ruled, inter alia, the following:
1. “The suspension of the application of the acquis communautaire in those areas of the Republic of Cyprus in which the Government of that Member State does not exercise effective control, provided for by Article 1(1) of Protocol No 10 on Cyprus to the Act concerning the conditions of accession [to the European Union]…does not preclude the application of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters to a judgment which is given by a Cypriot court sitting in the area of the island effectively controlled by the Cypriot Government, but concerns land situated in areas not so controlled”.
2. “Article 35(1) of Regulation No 44/2001 does not authorise the court of a Member State to refuse recognition or enforcement of a judgment given by the courts of another Member State concerning land situated in an area of the latter State over which its Government does not exercise effective control”.
3. “The fact that a judgment given by the courts of a Member State, concerning land situated in an area of that State over which its Government does not exercise effective control, cannot, as a practical matter, be enforced where the land is situated does not constitute a ground for refusal of recognition or enforcement under Article 34(1) of Regulation No 44/2001 and it does not mean that such a judgment is unenforceable for the purposes of Article 38(1) of that regulation”.