ONE of our readers, Kate Jones, wrote to us saying how disgusted she was on reading the facts of life about the incompetence of some of the lawyers in Cyprus.
We must make it clear from the start that this is not a Cypriot phenomenon but a worldwide one, since there are good and bad in any profession (remember the appendix operation in a London clinic of a young Cypriot man who died because nobody took any notice of him after the operation).
Surely the vast majority of Cypriot lawyers are of an excellent standard, but it takes a limited few to spoil the good name of the rest as well.
Regrettably, the property boom has brought a lot of good and a lot of bad things, with people waiting to get on this golden bandwagon of easy income.
For this reason we can tell you a couple of true stories that we have either experienced ourselves or that have happened to others, which we have double checked.
- A lawyer drew up contracts using his own payment terms, contrary to the agreement of the buyer-seller. The buyer paid a reservation fee, the seller refused to sign the altered sales contract and now the buyer stands to lose his reservation fee of £5.000.
- Another lawyer copied a previous contract of his own, which had nothing to do with the new sales agreement and its terms and even the project’s name was different!! The deal fell through.
- A client of ours bought a home, the seller defaulted and she sued for breach of contract. Her lawyer, however, never appeared in court, the judgement was issued against her and she now stands to lose because of this. When she confronted the lawyer and fired him on the spot, she asked for the legal papers in order to make an appeal through another advocate. However, the original lawyer made her sign a “no claim” statement against him, in order to release the much urgently needed documents.
- Cash paid to a solicitor to pay the developer, she (the lawyer) did not pay on time and the developer/seller now wants £1,000 interest charges on delayed payments.
- We have called a certain lawyer several times (eight) in order to remind him that his client had to decide on the type of floor finishes as the house was under development. The same lawyer refused to give us the address or telephone number of the client. The result was that due to the delay in contacting his client, the developer placed tiles other than those the buyer wanted.
- A contract produced by us was submitted to a solicitor to vet and comment. He claimed from the client fees of £1,500 without a single comment.
- A lawyer wanted the whole project to be free of any mortgage prior to “letting her client sign” to buy an apartment in a 30-unit project (completed). It took a lot of persuasion to explain that the bank will give a mortgage release for the particular unit and that it is impossible worldwide to have a development project without a mortgage, but due care and protection can be offered to individual buyers. She told us that developers in Paphos develop projects on non-mortgaged land. What a joke!!
- A lawyer asked the developer to provide a bank guarantee for the title issue. The developer agreed, subject to a reciprocal bank guarantee guaranteeing the buyer’s payment terms. The lawyer insisted otherwise and the deal fell through.
We can go on and on and what we can suggest to our readers is to apply to the Disciplinary Council of the Cyprus Lawyers Bar Association, but because some people might think that the Council, which comprises of lawyers, might not be independent, in order to get a fair decision, we can suggest to apply to the Oubudsman as an alternative.
We wish we had a list of reliable lawyers to provide to our readers. Surely after 30 years in property in Cyprus we do know the good and the bad (at least we know the good) but this will get us into a lot of trouble. For this reason it is our suggestion that perhaps the British Association of Cyprus Residents could create a list of recommended solicitors and other professionals, based on the experiences of its members.
It is a difficult situation, but at least this could be a start in order to correct a situation which, although not found on a wide scale, it is large enough to spoil the business (and Cyprus’ name) of others, as well as to protect the thousands of good quality and top standard correct legal professionals.
By Antonis Loizou – Antonis Loizou & Associates Limited
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