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British home buyer loses case in court ruling

A judge has ruled that British home buyer Conor O’Dwyer’s private criminal prosecution against Karayiannas and Michelle McDonald has not been proven and has ordered Mr O’Dwyer to pay their costs.

Larnaca District CourtCONOR O’Dwyer has failed in his attempt to get justice through the Cyprus judicial system following a court ruling earlier today in his private criminal case against property developer Christoforos Karayiannas & Son Ltd and Michelle McDonald, the person now living in his home.

In 2008 the Attorney General wrote a three-line letter to O’Dwyer telling him that his developers had not committed any crime by effectively re-selling a house legally registered in his name. However, when O’Dwyer brought a private criminal prosecution against the accused, the judge agreed that Karayiannas and McDonald had a case to answer.

The judge accepted evidence from an official from the Department of Lands and Surveys who confirmed that O’Dwyer’s contract had been duly signed and lodged with the Land Registry for ‘Specific Performance’.

The court heard evidence that O’Dwyer made the stage payments as required by his contract until Karayiannas refused to accept a payment. It also heard how O’Dwyer made numerous attempts contact the Karayiannas to discover what was happening and how all of these were ignored.

The judge also accepted that the developer had resold the property to someone else without seeking Mr O’Dwyer’s consent to cancel the contract or applying for a court order to withdraw the contract from the Land Registry.

But despite the evidence submitted the judge did not consider it sufficient to prove that a fraud had been committed ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ and ordered Mr. O’Dwyer to pay the defendants’ costs.

According to the Island’s ‘Specific Performance Law’, the deposit of a contact of sale at a Land Registry prevents a property from being sold for a second time. It can only be withdrawn from the Land Registry with the agreement of the vendor and the purchaser – or by a court order.

Mr O’Dwyer’s lawyer, Yiannos G. Georgiades, said that: “We will appeal the decision; we believe it goes against the laws of Cyprus. The decision could give the wrong messages to overseas investors that their rights are not protected when they buy property in Cyprus even if they have filed their contracts with the Land Registry.”

“Investors must be assured that the laws of Cyprus safeguard their rights if they file the contract with the Land Registry and that the developer cannot resell their property without their consent.”

Referring to case law Andricos Nicou and others v George Georgiou 1 CLR(1999) p 940, Mr Georgiades added “The judgements of the Supreme Court are binding on the lower courts since in Cyprus we follow the English common law system.”

Readers' comments

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  • Jacqui says:

    Judy Davies – s303a under which Conor’s case was brought states –

    “(3) For the purposes of the present section, a person acts with intent to defraud if, when committing any of the acts set out in subsection (2), that person knows or, under the circumstances, should reasonably have known, that he does not have the consent of the registered owner of the immovable property, or of any other person who has the lawful authority to grant such consent”

    Regardless of anything Karayiannas or his lawyer sent or did not send to Conor regarding termination of the contract, this does not lawfully give him to permission to sell. He had to have either Conor’s permission, which he did not have, or that of the court, which he did not have. Therefore according to s303a is that not fraud?

  • Judy Davies says:

    Fighting for justice

    I have heard a lot of things from a good source.

    Also the lady in the dock doesn’t want to fill the court with supporters as she told my sister who is her friend that that is has caused a lot of problems with Conor’s supporters how they react to this lady.

    If you are one of them and being there at the time then maybe your one of them.

    She has a lot of support around her ..

    Yes one of her friends laughed not at what was being said by Conor but the outburst he provided at the time. And yes wrong to do this .

    I think we will all no better when the transcript from the court will be provided ….

  • Fighting For Justice says:

    Judy, if you want to quote what Conor said and what the Judge said, you really need to get it right. That was not what Conor said and was not what the Judge said. As you continually assert that you were not there you really cannot rely on what somebody says that somebody said.

    Speaking of supporters, the woman in the dock was down to one supporter, her boyfriend I believe after her only 1 other supporter was thrown out of court after laughing when Conor gave evidence as to his families living conditions were described. Pretty disgraceful behaviour if you ask me. Oh, and yes, I was there.

  • Unbelievable says:

    Lets all stick to the agenda please.

    Cyprus is screwing over thousands of people out of their hard earn money. Europe, Cyprus and the UK are not willing to help these poor victims.

    Cyprus business people which includes;

    Lawyers
    Banks
    Developers
    Real Estate
    Law Courts
    Police

    Just about everybody, are not willing to help or admit what is really going on here.

    It’s all very Disturbing & Disgusting !

  • @Max – please be very careful about making claims that you may be unable to assert. They could be conceived as being libellous by the party you named.

  • Judy Davies says:

    Max I said Conor or supporters SANG not chanting are you sure you didn’t hear that …

  • Judy Davies says:

    Max what did the lawyer lie about?

  • Max says:

    Judy, I was in court with Conor, there was no chanting, please get your facts right. And as for Pittadjis, I witnessed him lie in court, so I wouldn’t accept as gospel anything he said, did or wrote.

  • andyp says:

    I have to agree with Unbelievable re most people not reading their contracts, relying on their lawyers doing their job.

    Having said that I am a retired Chartered Surveyor who “bought” in 2005 and I did read it and made many changes which my lawyer then agreed with the vendor. Great I thought no problem I signed.

    What never crossed my mind, and why would it, was that my Lawyer would not register my contract, notwithstanding I had written confirmation that it had been registered. SPOOKILY my contract was registered AFTER The Developer registered a mortgage on the land. My contract was completed in December and if I recall correctly the Developer took out a mortgage in March the following year.

    The only safe buying advice I would therefore give to those considering such a foolish move is do not do it.

  • Unbelieveable says:

    Steve – what planet are you on?

    Honestly, you really think that most UK house buyers ask their lawyer for a copy of the contract, read through every page in detail and then do their own searches on the back of the UK lawyers searches.

    Do UK house buyers ask the bank whether there are outstanding debts or anything they should know.

    NO THEY DON’T

    Why – because in the UK we simply rely on the UK lawyer to do all this for us, then we just sign on the dotted line.

    Steve – if you’re different, then you are a true exception my friend.

    People buying overseas (worldwide), rely on their local lawyer and also have to trust them.

    Please don’t insult buyers who have lost tens of thousands of pounds to crooks – it’s a horrible situation to be in and cause ill health, marriages to breakup and financial loss. Nothing but heartache.

  • Judy Davies says:

    Andy I have passed the details to her she needs to get this sorted now asap not sitting back and thinking it will be OK ..

  • andyp says:

    Judy. Most of us are in the same boat and this decision would appear to make things much worse.

    Notwithstanding who did what to who and who did it first what has, in my opinion, basically happened with this case is that a Cyprus Judge has ruled that your Cyprus registered contract at the Cyprus land Registry is not worth the paper it was written on and gives a buyer no security whatsoever despite what we had all been told in the past.

    The fundamental point is that Conor has a registered contract. This seems to be a confirmed fact yet the developer sold the house again.

    Judy why do you not post exactly what your sisters problem is on Nigel’s Forum page and you might get some help.

  • Steve says:

    Let’s all stop being so British and stiff upper lipped about the situation in Cyprus. When we all entered into these contracts I do not think any of us really looked into it in depth including myself.

    The development boom in Cyprus happened on the back of the property boom in the UK in 2004. Would anybody have signed the same contract when purchasing a property in the UK. NO. I have been screwed by a British developer who exploited the lapsed Cyprus laws. I entered into this contract looking through Rose tinted glasses. I have only myself to blame.

    Going back to the O’Dwyer case I think that there is a lot more involved than we have been lead to believe and his supporters who think it is fit to go into a court of law chanting like football hooligans and thinking they were going to get one over on the Cypriots didn’t do him any good at all

  • Judy Davies says:

    Andyp yes I am on the cm and my sister lives in the next village with a problem that I said earlier no land registry stamp the builder had no permission to build she knows the lady in the house in Frenaros and I was asking questions and stating what was said to see if this was actually true I have my opinion too and I wanted to hear from others and get more info for my sister as the same can happen to her she can loose her house …

  • Stuart says:

    Over 2000 years ago the question was posed….”Can anything good ever come out of Nazareth?” (John 1, v46).

    2000 years later the question could be legitimately be asked….”Can anything good ever come out of Cyprus?”

    Whereas the answer to the first question is clearly an emphatic ‘yes’ the answer to the second seems to be a resounding ‘no’.

  • Jill Warr says:

    So once again we see total injustice – once again the developer seems to be all-powerful, even when it is obvious that he has broken the laws (if you can call them that!) of this land.

  • Martyn says:

    This seems to be a complete outrage. It does nothing whatsoever to help Cyprus hold up its head in the International property markets and needs to be well publicised so that potential Cyprus property buyers steer well away from this kind of ‘legalised fraud’.

    Unless remedied this could further reduce the attractiveness of living on the beautiful island of Cyprus.

  • @Steve – thanks for your input to the discussion.

    Although a lawyer may write to someone advising them of their intent to seek a court order to cancel a contract, they cannot sell the property to someone else until a court has decided in their favour and issued an order to the Land Registry instructing them to withdraw the contract.

  • Johnny says:

    I a British born Cypriot cannot believe that the Cyprus legal system would allow such an injustice. But then again, I shouldn’t be surprised as I’ve seen similar things happen in the past. In Cyprus, it’s not who’s right or wrong, but who you are related too that affects the outcome.

    The Cypriot economy rely’s heavily on the GBP which finds it’s way in either by tourism and property transactions. They are not doing themselves any favours as a whole by “sorting things out” for some connection. I hope to see this case publicised in the mainline press here in England so that it will make people think twice before parting with their money.
    It’s not just the English they mis treat, Us British born Cypriots are treated even worst, in fact they even nic name us “Charlies” What they seem to forget is that without the British, and the Charlies, Cyprus would still be an Island of sheep herders.

    I’d be happy to contribute to a fund for Conner.

    This may be a battle won for a Cypriot developer, but the consequences will mean that a short term win will amount to a major long term loss for the Cypriot economy.

    Good Luck conner

  • Steve says:

    In his statement that you published on July 24th 2009, the Interior Minister said that “the ownership status of a buyer-owner of immovable property in Cyprus is definitely secured and cannot be challenged, as long as the buyer-owner has submitted the buying-contract to the Department of Lands and Surveys.” This was obviously a lie!

    I think Derek missed out a very important statement that is always tagged on to the above. The contract must not be in any way breached or it becomes void and the developer has the right to cancel. Being a victim of the laws of Cyprus I know that these contracts are not written to assist foreign buyers but to protect the developer and the banks. Maybe Conor should be concentrating on finding out why his lawyer allowed him to sign the contract in the first place. We all need to keep fighting

  • @Unbelievable – regarding the British High Commission’s List.

    Firstly, the lawyers on the list are not recommended by the High Commission – the list is there to assist.

    Secondly, if you have a complaint against any of the lawyers on the list you should complete the feedback form that you’ll find at http://ukincyprus.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/when-things-go-wrong/if-you-need-lawyer/list-local-lawyers and return it to the Commission.

  • andyp says:

    Judy. According to your posts their, very similar, you were not at court either

  • andyp says:

    @ Judy. Might you be the same Judy from UK posting on CM

  • Judy Davies says:

    Nigel yes he did provide evidence stamped at lawyers office and postal and was accepted by Conors lawyers .
    The email was wrote incorrect it does exist.

  • Jo says:

    Poor man! Having narrowly escaped the Cypriot property legal system ourselves and returned to UK, my heart goes out to him for the terrible anxiety and sense of injustice which must burn him.

    We are getting over it now but we will never forget the huge weight of worry which settled on us every morning we opened our eyes over there.

  • Curmudgeon says:

    On the face of it, the anger and disbelief is understood. But, Judy Davies comments carry weight however. At the risk of starting a riot I comment as follows:

    Having read Judy’s input, just why when cross examined did Mr. O’Dwyer often answer ‘it is a civil case and only my lawyer can answer’? If you had factual evidence wouldn’t you have been presented when required? Of course you would. Given that Mr. O’Dwyer repeated (or did he?) the same thing when cross examined did not help the Judge reach a proper conclusion so thus far, don’t blame the Judge.

    Were letters of Cancellation of Contract written at the time, if so, why were they sent, was there a default, were they sent proof of receipt, did Mr. O’Dwyer reject or refuse them? A Judge would not accept this evidence unless they it could be proved i.e. source to destination. Thus far don’t blame the Judge.

    Would I be in court trying to prove my case stating what ‘I think happened’. Not a chance, I would be stating actual facts that could be evidenced in order to prove my case. Thus far don’t blame the Judge.

    Only being armed with hearsay, editorials, newspaper clips and personal comments I am equally angered at what I see as an injustice and bias against ExPats. But not being privy to factual evidence I’ll reserve judgement for now.

    P.S. Mr. O’Dwyer, if I had your supporters I’d ask them to keep hush when in court.

  • Unbelievable says:

    Should also mention…

    If you think recommended Lawyers from the British High & Mighty Commission are a safe bet, think again.

    I’ve used one of the big law firms and believe me, they do not like non-Cypriots and will not work in your favour.

    But of course you only find this out after they have taken your money.

    Never pay everything upfront. Pay in stages and if your Lawyer seems to be doing a **** job – Walk Away !

  • @Judy – I presume Pittadjis provided the court with evidence that the letter had been sent and received.

    Also, I notice that the email address you provided does not exist. Please read the Comment Guidelines below.

  • Unbelievable says:

    MESSAGE TO ALL…

    I’ve been harping on from day one about Cyprus legal system and how non Cypriots will be pushed out of ANY situation if you try to fight them.

    Best you all keep your money away from these people. By all means enjoys holidays there but Never EVER invest in Cyprus unless you are sure you can afford a drop in vestment if it all goes pear shape.

    Your Cypriot Lawyer will smile and assure you 100% they work in your favour. Fool, if you believe this.

    Judy Davies –
    Fact, Conor was beaten in public and hospitalised
    Fact, Conor has lost his money to developer and Conor has nothing in return.

    Who cares what the supporters were chanting in court. Put yourself in Conor’s shoes and see how comfortable it fits !

    Home made bombs, bribery, shotguns , corruption & nepotism….Welcome to Cyprus, Enjoy Your Stay :-)

  • Judy Davies says:

    Dee because Conor had told the developer he would deframe them and he was offered his money back also he has never accepted the money only he would see them in court .. also Conor said he never recieved the letter in question …

  • Paul says:

    Cyprus justice at it’s very best.

  • Mike says:

    Peter is right. I am not caught in the title deeds mess, but would contribute to a fighting fund as the state of the Cypriot legal system affects us all.

  • Dee says:

    @ Judy Davies. If the developer cancelled the contract by letter, then why was there not a cheque enclosed in said letter, refunding all the payments made for the property?

  • Dionysis Theodorou says:

    This is a total disgrace!

    What confidence should foreign investors have in the security of their investment after a case like this one?

    What did Mr. O’Dwyer do wrong that he should be robbed of his apartment and ordered to pay the defendant’s legal costs?

    This is a total failure of the Cypriot land registry and of the legal system that can do nothing to protect this man and his family.

    What advice do you have for foreign investors apart from: Don’t purchase property in Cyprus if it is lacking a title deed?

  • Steve says:

    This latest episode in the Conor O’Dwyer saga seems to me to provide a further illustration of the fact that British people do not understand Cypriots and make the mistake of expecting outcomes on issues of fairness, justice and interpretation of the law to be the same as they would be in the UK. I think that most native Cypriots will not bat an eye lid at this verdict. They and we have seen it all before. Why do we keep suggesting the same things and expecting a different result from the last time?

    The only factor that has a realistic chance to cause Cyprus to change is the collapse of the property market caused by buyers staying away, but could that happen? We have already seen that the industry’s reaction to just a fall in sales to UK buyers is to go to any country that has inhabitants wealthy enough to buy Cyprus property, preferably non-English speakers who won’t read the likes of this web site.

    My sympathies go to Conor and his family.

  • Judy Davies says:

    How many of you have followed this case and attended every court hearing?

    Did the judge not also say yesterday that when giving evidence Conor only produced what he thought was fact and not actual fact.

    That Conor when cross examined would not answer questions to the defence only say “it’s a civil case and my lawyer can only answer”.

    The lawyer accepted the letters presented by George Pittadgis stating the cancellation of the contract put in writing to Conor ..

    The lawyer sat in court drawing yesterday patterns on paper ………….

    Conor or supporters of his sang when entering the court room “TONIGHTS GOING TO BE A GOOD NIGHT”

    Until you actually read facts of this case I believe will be published for all to see and attended every court hearing how can you comment on what a supporter wrote leaving many things out that were actually said in that court room yesterday?

  • Bill says:

    Everyone should send this article to there MPs and MEP and ask how can a biased lawless country like this be allowed to have the presidency of the EU while its own corrupt justice system favours the criminals.

  • Bill says:

    This proves Cyprus justice is rotten to the core and there is no justice for non-Cypriots regarding property.

  • Derek says:

    As this case clearly demonstrates very clearly, there is NO legal protection or justice for those who have bought property in Cyprus with or without a title deed.

    If developers have a mind to they can sell your home to someone else and keep the money you have paid them. The Attorney General refused to take action again Karayiannas and the judge in her ruling agreed with the Attorney General that double selling is not a crime.

    In his statement that you published on July 24th 2009, the Interior Minister said that “the ownership status of a buyer-owner of immovable property in Cyprus is definitely secured and cannot be challenged, as long as the buyer-owner has submitted the buying-contract to the Department of Lands and Surveys.” This was obviously a lie!

    I know that Conor has spent tens of thousands of euros in his quest for justice but has got nowhere. Karayiannas beat him up and put him in hospital for a week and all the judge gave them was a two year suspended sentence.

    What sort of justice is this? This lovely island is corrupt to the core and it is not safe for any foreigner to buy a house here unless they have plenty of money to throw down the drain.

  • baileyboy says:

    A tremendous blow for Conor and indeed for every property owner in Cyprus. Given the evidence above how can a judge rule that no crime has been committed.

    Beggers believe.

  • andyp says:

    Should have added that my particular circumstances are a bit odd as forgery is involved and I am barred from going to court until AG rules in my favour. Yes that too is odd but that’s life in Cyprus.

  • andyp says:

    I would imagine that Conor is too proud to accept financial help but having said that this is not a private fight. This is about justice for all and money is required to back Conor even just for expenses to continue to live and fight. Many of us are still to be granted the chance.

    I have 100 euros spare as I no longer keep much cash in Cyprus.

    Conor accept and fight on. Where do you want the cash to be sent?

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    Mr Georgiades’ comment about ‘the wrong messages to overseas investors’ must surely be the understatement of the year, if not the decade.

    Buying and investment depend absolutely on the trust and confidence of the buyer/investor. The integrity and reputation of Cyprus as a place to buy property, with robust legal protection for the buyer, is paramount for trust and confidence.

    The ‘integrity and reputation’ account is now virtually empty. The enemies of Cyprus must be rubbing their hands with glee at yet another ‘own goal’ by the Cyprus judiciary.

  • paul ruse says:

    STAGGERING! AMAZING! THIS IS NO JUSTICE!, AN APPEAL YES !

    We, as in every one who complains has to do something. We can’t go on like this. We need a fighting fund to go to the EU court of Human Rights. We have to use their laws to force them to put matters right.

    Name and Shame spread the word there ain’t no justice in Cyprus. Buying in Cyprus could seriously affect your wealth and your health.

    Tell your MEP, tell your MP and tell the local press. United we stand divided we fall. Do not stand by and do nothing.

  • tom says:

    Banana republic. That’s the final nail in the Cyprus property market. Let the island turn into a desert.

  • Peter says:

    “We will appeal the decision; we believe it goes against the laws of Cyprus. The decision could give the wrong messages to overseas investors that their rights are not protected when they buy property in Cyprus even if they have filed their contracts with the Land Registry.”

    Actually no, I think the ruling is spot on.

    Is there a fund where I can donate to assist Conor as he is not fighting alone, he represents over 130,000 of us, mostly British expats.

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