Decision of UK Court of Appeal on Orams Case
The UK Court of Appeal ruled on January 19, 2010, that a decision by a Cypriot court, in connection with claims relating to Greek Cypriot owned property in Cyprus’ northern Turkish occupied areas, must be executed in the United Kingdom.
The British Court judgment was issued in the case of Apostolides v Orams, in which Greek Cypriot Meletis Apostolides took the Orams couple to court, claiming his property rights in the occupied areas (where the Orams had illegally built, a holiday home) were violated.
The Cypriot court had ordered the Orams to pay compensation to Apostolides, demolish the holiday home they had built on his property in the Turkish occupied village of Lapithos, halt all intervention on the said property and deliver it to its legal owner. Mr. Apostolides sought the execution of this judgment in the UK on the basis of an EU regulation. The British Court of Appeal said on January 19, 2010, that this ruling must be executed in the United Kingdom.
Apostolides said he was pleased, adding that the ruling was “a vindication of the institutions and the values of the European Union.” He also noted that the judgment relates to all aspects of the property issue, which constitutes one of the main parameters of the Cyprus problem.
Apostolides’ lawyer, Constantinos Kantounas, said the Court of Appeal ruling was “final and there is no right to appeal against it.”
In statements made on the issue, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has said that the judgment of the British Court of Appeal must be executed and that it has both legal and political importance.
President Christofias said that the decision of the British Court is legally important because the Court based its ruling on the EU laws and regulations, as well as the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, and the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. It is also politically important because it conveys a message to the side which denies the right to ownership or the use of property.
The President said that the government will look into the decision thoroughly and will use it accordingly. Invited by the press to say how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs intends to utilize the British Court of Appeal decision in the case Apostolides v Orams, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Markos Kyprianou stated the following:
“The implementation and the execution of the decision is now a legal obligation and we will be following the developments closely. Of course, of exceptional importance to us are the broader consequences and the wider significance of this decision in conjunction with the important Judgment of the European Court, which was in essence adopted by the British Court as well. This decision points out certain legal facts that are very important.
First of all, it is applicable throughout Europe and it applies to all European citizens. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will become active - we have already been active since the decision of the European Court but now we will become more active, so that the significance of the decision, the illegality of purchasing immovable property and the existing risks for the buyers in illegally purchasing occupied property can be made known to all European citizens. Consequently it is a decision that binds all the member states and the citizens of the European Union and can be executed in the countries where they live.
Secondly, which is also very important, the combination of the European and British decision reaffirms that - irrespective of the occupation and the practical weakness of the state to exercise control on the occupied areas - the Laws and the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus still apply. This is a message that must be sent, not only to the citizens, the private buyers, but also to the governments of all foreign states, especially the European ones, and all those carrying out business in the occupied areas; the reminder that anything they do must be done with respect for the Laws of the Republic of Cyprus, and of course this also applies for the European Commission which, through various regulations that have been adopted to strengthen the Turkish Cypriot community, is active in the occupied areas.
Thirdly, and this concerns of course the talks in Cyprus, the legitimacy of the positions presented by our side is reaffirmed concerning, not only who the legitimate owners of occupied properties are, but also who should have a say in the management and the fate of this right, who is of course the owner.
So, I totally disagree with the approach of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I do not believe that this decision will complicate the talks. On the contrary, it reaffirms the legitimacy of our proposals and I believe that this should be accepted also by the other side.”