NEFARIOUS property developers are not the only ones who have a disregard of the law. We heard this morning that the Land Registry refused to act on an order for Specific Performance issued by a District court.
A British couple purchased a property in 2005 at the eastern end of the island – a resale apartment with Title Deeds. Their contract was duly stamped and lodged at the Land Registry for Specific Performance and there were no prior mortgages or any other claims lodged against; the title was ‘clean’.
At that time non-Cypriots buying property had to obtain permission from the Council of Ministers to own any property they purchased. This permission was duly granted to the couple two years later in November 2007.
However, the transfer of ownership of the apartment to the couple was never achieved due to the vendor’s inability and/or refusal to pay the Capital Gains Tax and Immovable Property Tax owed to the Inland Revenue.
Frustrated by the lack of progress, the couple instructed their lawyer to file an action at the District Court. This he did with the consent of the vendor who was named in the action as the defendant.
The court issued its judgement in early 2012 which, amongst other things, included an order for Specific Performance of the Contract of Sale. The vendor was granted a stay of execution on the judgement for a period of nine months to enable her to resolve her financial predicament and pay the Immovable Property Tax and Capital Gains Tax she owed.
After the nine month period had elapsed and armed with the court judgement, the lawyer applied to the Land Registry to implement the Specific Performance Order.
However, the Land Registry effectively refused to implement the judgement of the court. In a letter to the law firm acting on behalf of the British couple it wrote:
“I wish to inform you that the application can be accepted provided that the following documents shall be produced:
- Application signed by the purchasers or their agent.
- Form N.313 from the Income Tax Office, concerning the payment of the Capital Gains Tax.
- Certification from Paralimni Sewerage Board.
- Certification from the Municipality of Paralimni, that the immovable tax is paid.
We are at your disposal for any further clarifications you may need.”
Perhaps it would be appropriate to sue the Land Registry for contempt of court. Contempt of court is the offence of being disobedient to a court of law by defying its authority, which is often behaviour that is illegal because it does not obey or respect the rules of a law court.
What hope is there for anyone wanting the deeds to the property they purchased if the Land Registry disobeys the judgement of a court?