BRITISH home buyer Conor O’Dwyer has been granted legal aid to continue his long-running civil case against the Paralimni-based property developer Christoforos Karayiannas & Son Ltd over a disputed property.
In a short hearing yesterday morning, Judge Tefkros Economou at Famagusta District Court said the aid was necessary, pointing to EU directive 2002/8/EC which deals with cross border disputes within the EU.
The EU directive was passed into Cyprus law in 2005 and has only ever been used in human rights and criminal cases, making O’Dwyer’s claim in a civil action a legal first.
O’Dwyer has been embroiled in an expensive and lengthy legal action with Paralimni based Karayiannas Developers, with several concurrent cases running in court.
The aid will help with his fees in case in which O’Dwyer claims unlawful termination of his contract of sale by Karayiannas (Case 365/2006). The aid will also pay for a court interpreter, accommodation costs and travel expenses between his home in Britain and court dates in Cyprus.
“Conor has been drained financially due to all the cases pending in the courts in Cyprus for all these years,” lawyer Yiannos Georgiaides, acting for O’Dwyer, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
“It came to the, point where he could not afford his legal fees; therefore he would not have had proper access to justice. He would have been in a very difficult position.”
O’Dwyer’s lawyers applied for aid after years of legal wrangling over a disputed villa in Frenaros, which began when O’Dwyer claimed he purchased a house that was then resold by Karayiannas Developers without his knowledge.
The dispute has taken a series of twists and turns, including O’Dwyer staging demonstrations outside the Cyprus High Commission in London, sleeping at the gates of the Presidential Palace in Nicosia and publishing his entire story online and on the video site YouTube.
He claims the spat resulted in him losing the house and £100,000 he had paid for the property.
The developers dismissed the accusations and accused O’Dwyer of attempting to extort a more expensive house from them – a charge that O’Dwyer flatly denies.
The case has been closely followed by expatriate communities on the island, where as many as 30,000 Britons are now thought to own property.
“If Conor was not granted this legal aid, this would be equal to the refusal of his right to justice,” Georgiaides added.
Last year the developer, his son and an associate were convicted of assault and actual body harm of O’Dwyer after he was beaten up outside the disputed house in early 2007.
O’Dwyer spent a week in Larnaca General Hospital after the attack and said the incident blighted his family life.