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Appeal filed against Conor O’Dwyer ruling

An appeal has been filed against the court ruling last month that cleared property developer Christoforos Karayiannas & Son Ltd and Michelle McDonald

LAWYER Yiannos Georgiades, acting for Conor O’Dwyer, confirmed to the Cyprus Property News Magazine that an appeal has been filed against the court ruling last month that cleared property developer Karayiannas and Michelle McDonald of any wrongdoing.

The long awaited verdict from the court has caused many people to doubt the protection afforded to those buying property on the Island.

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. The contract can only be withdrawn from the Land Registry with the agreement of the vendor (Karayiannas) and the purchaser (Mr O’Dwyer) – or by a court order.

In the O’Dwyer case, the judge accepted that Mr O’Dwyer’s contract had been lodged with the Land Registry and that the developer had resold the property to someone else without O’Dwyer’s consent or a court order instructing the Land Registry to remove his contract.

Successive Governments have promised to revise the Island’s antiquated property laws to provide those buying property with added protection.

In July 2009 the Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis issued a statement that included the following:

“Despite our determination to cut this Gordian knot with the introduction of new legislation for the improvement and reformation of the planning system, as well as the system of issuing property titles, it must be clarified here that even the current system and the existing legislation protects buyers and their ownership status.”

Also in July 2009 the Permanent Secretary of the Interior Ministry wrote to Graham Watson MEP assuring him that:

“It is worth repeating that even under current legislation, buyers of immovable property are protected, once they deposit the Contract for Sale at the appropriate District Office of the Department of Lands and Surveys according to the Sale of Lands (Specific Performance) Law, Cap.232.”

However, the judge’s ruling the O’Dwyer’s case seems to contradict government assurances, as she did not believe that submission of a sales contract to the Land Registry was enough to guarantee a person’s property rights. As well as finding in favour of the defendants, she also ordered Mr O’Dwyer to pay their costs.

No date has been set for the appeal to be heard.

Readers' comments

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  • Denton Mackrell says:

    The Interior Minister has stated very clearly in several official public statements as well as a letter to an MEP and official responses to the European Commission that a buyer is absolutely protected once his contract of sale/purchase is deposited with the Land Registry. There is apparently a Supreme Court ruling which backs this up.

    The judge says ‘No’. So, is it a case of all the ministers, lawyers, Supreme Court etc making all their statements in error? Or, more sinisterly, did they know full well all along that it was cobblers and deliberately misled everyone?

    Surely Mr Silikiotis in particular must now issue a public clarification.

  • R.S. says:

    The lack of respect for private property in Cyprus is not too surprising. After all, the president is a communist, and many Cypriots have voted for the communist party.

    And what is communism? It’s the abolition of private property. This is the BASIC principle of communism.

    “In their Communist Manifesto of 1848 Marx and Engels wrote that “the theory of the communists may be summed up in one single sentence: Abolition of private property.” (Richard Pipes: Communism, a brief history.)

    Since they don’t have the majority of the votes, they can’t just abolish private property directly, but instead try to destroy property rights gradually through corruption and deceit. This will destroy the economy, and when the low-tax “capitalist” system of Cyprus collapses, they will say: “This proves that capitalism doesn’t work.”

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    I also like Peter have seen at first hand the Paphos court at work.

    The sooner the EU wakes up to reality the better, that for most EU citizens going to Cypriot courts who operate and give judgements which ignores rule of law.

  • hector says:

    Peter tells it like it is with his comments on the Cyprus legal system. It will only be through determined, courageous (and unfortunately expensive) challenges of court decisions to the ECJ will things slowly change.

    Cyprus likes the EU money but not the EU standards of justice.

  • Steve says:

    I can find no instance where the specific performance law confers any material protection or property rights on the buyer, only liabilities for rates, maintenance and the like. For everything else, the title deeds are required in every instance. The letter to Graham Watson MEP, quoted in Nigel’s article, implies as much when it goes on to say, following on from the quote in the article above,

    “The abovementioned law is to be strengthened under the new legislation.”

    Why should it need strengthening if it is effective now? Almost protected or sometimes protected is a nonsense, but it seems to work well in persuading buyers that they have nothing to worry about if they don’t have title deeds.

  • Pete says:

    Every Expat in Cyprus knows there is one rule for expats and another for Cypriots , so why bother wasting money in going to court again .

  • Peter says:

    Cyprus law is so corrupt that when I became involved in a Paphos case no local lawyer would represent the defendant in a ‘Not Guilty’ plea, although many were willing to give mitigation in a guilty plea. We were advised it was a waste of time as this court is full of nepotism. In the end we had to go to Nicosia to get a lawyer who was prepared to fight the case. As I gave evidence even the Judge was helping the prosecution solicitor with the wording his questions? (unbelievable)

    I have spent over 32yrs as a police officer in the UK and have given evidence in many fatal Road Traffic Cases cases from the Magistrates, Coroner’s Court and High Court including the Old Bailey, but because my evidence conflicted with the two police officers in the cause of the accident, the Judge ruled that. “It didn’t recognise me as an expert witness”. The guilty finding went against all the evidence produced and even the facts and positions of the vehicles.

    Don’t expect justice in Cyprus. It really does not exist. How such a 3rd World Country got into the EU still beggars belief.

  • andyp says:

    Best of luck Conor.

    I hope for your sake and for the benefit of Cyprus as a whole that an early appeal date is set and an early decision is made by The Supreme Court.

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