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City law firm to protect Cyprus buyers rights

London law firm Healys LLP has announced it will be working with a leading law firm in Cyprus to advise on claims of mis-selling in the Cyprus property market.

MANY people have run into problems when purchasing property in Cyprus because they have been given bad or misleading advice.

Healys LLP, a leading UK law firm in the City of London, has teamed up with the Cyprus law firm L.G Zambartas LLC, to advise on claims of mis-selling.

London

Healys LLP

Press Release

City Law Firm Healys LLP to Protect Rights of Cyprus Property Buyers

City law firm Healys LLP has announced that it will be working in association with leading Limassol based Cyprus firm L.G Zambartas LLC to advise on claims of misselling in the Cyprus property market.

The arrangement is part of the drive by Healys to become the leading UK firm to offer legal services to the Cyprus market in conjunction with its Cyprus contacts.

Chris Christofi, Healys’ Partner at the Cyprus and International desk said

”We are taking this step now because of the large number of enquiries we are receiving both from UK based buyers and also from Cyprus. In particular we are concerned that misleading advice is being circulated to buyers and who are often finding themselves in difficulties on their purchase through no fault of their own.”

He added

“We hope to work closely with all interested parties within Cyprus so as to avoid the exploitation of these vulnerable people. A healthy and buoyant property market is essential to the economic and political well being of the Republic Cyprus, and we feel that through our involvement we can help restore the integrity of the Cyprus property market.”

Healys LLP

76 Shoe Lane
London EC4A 3JB
T 0207 822 4000
www.healys.com

Direct Email: chris.christofi@healys.com

Readers' comments

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  • @Unbelievable – If you do not wish to make public the name and contact details of your father-in-laws firm of barristers, please send them to me via ‘Contact’ at the head of the page and I will pass them on to LS.

  • Unbelievable says:

    @LS

    I should have clearly mentioned – I use my father-in-laws firm of Barristers. As he’s been using them for many years, they are not in the habit of ripping him off with a £3,000 ‘consultation’ fee!

    My previous comment below was to highlight the fact that Healys don’t seem to be offering a good deal here.

    Why should they charge over £3,000+vat to read a simple sales contract and other bits of paperwork you may have. Sit down with you for an extra hour and then ask for even more money to take on your case.

    If the solicitor (not Barrister) spends 10hours on your paperwork (which he wont), that amounts to over £300 per hour.

    HELLO – Are we Stupid here?

    I will be contacting Healys to ask for a specific breakdown of how my £3,000 will be spent and how many hours consultation I get for it..

    Thanks Healys for the discount intro offer for all those ten of thousands of potential customers out there.

    True Cypriot style :-)

  • LS says:

    @Unbelievable

    Could you please provide contact details for your Barrister who will look at all our paperwork for free?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Nigel – thanks for your comments, with which I tend to agree, however, given the need to build evidence from a large group of property owners to give this cause some clout and gravitas, I would have thought a lower entry cost for the initial assessment would have helped to achieve this.

    Only time will tell.

    In the meantime I will support this cause in any way I can.

  • @Costas – I would be very wary of using any law firm who ‘guaranteed a positive destination’.

    A lawyer will be able to give you an educated and researched opinion, but he/she could not guarantee a successful outcome. The decisions isn’t theirs to make.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    I really really wish Healys and all who sail in her the best of luck, I honestly do.

    I also wish I could afford to stump up 3600 Euros to get on board, but it seems to me that the voyage is a little open ended, with no guarantee of a positive destination.

    I will, however, be keeping a close eye out and hoping that Healys really make significant progress with this excellent quest.

    For those of us left on the quayside I understand that if you sign up for Healys newsletter and / or keep visiting their website, they will be issuing periodical updates reporting on any successes and any significant progress they make including influencing change in Cypriot property sector law.

    Bon Voyage!

  • Mickey says:

    On the contrary TescoTed, I paid a good fee for what I considered to be a proper job – and look where that got ME

  • TescoTed says:

    We didn’t want to spend anything on legal fees when we bought either and look where that got everyone.

  • Mickey says:

    What a pity (really) that a non-London firm of lawyers couldn’t have been teamed up with. Are you aware how much their partners earn? Don’t expect very much at all for your €3000 (+VAT at 20%)

  • Unbelievable says:

    @Nigel – I don’t like the sound of this at all.

    I think Healys will try and profit from this situation big time. I don’t care what anyone says about big London law firms having a reputation to uphold.

    Are Healys offering to revue case paperwork for free or £3,000 upfront?

    If it’s money upfront, then I’M OUT of IT !

    I use a big UK Law firm (Barristers) not solicitors, and they will give you a clear assessment before taking your cash. An experienced Barrister can read a sales contract and other paperwork within 1 hour and should be able to decide if your case is strong – especially if he is Greek Cypriot and knows the Cyprus Law.

    I’m afraid Healys will turn out to be just like the rest of the Cypriot Lawyers.

    Please prove me wrong Nigel..

  • andyp says:

    Thanks Nigel. P.S. I can’t believe people went ahead with a purchase knowing there was an outstanding mortgage. surely not after all the publicity

    Gerry. I can see Healys getting somewhere with UK actions against FSA related mis-selling just not sure how they can help the rest of us in Cyprus, where Cyprus has jurisdiction. We all,well possibly except me until I get an AG ruling, must take our solicitors to Court individually. Or so I thought.

  • Gerry Thompson says:

    It would be interesting to see the first case that the Healys would consider a strong case.

    It seem black and white to me, contract with no mention of mortgage to the developer and you don’t get anything as blatant as the solicitor not informing me of any third party/mortgage in the searches.

    I do not have €3000 for Healys to give me a answer to stage 1 & 2,

    If anyone has done so please let me know the outcome of stage 3

  • @andyp – I can’t answer on behalf of Healys. But is suspect that every case will be judged on its merits.

    I have seen a number of sales contracts that clearly state there was an outstanding mortgage. In these cases buyers were aware of the problem but still signed the contract.

    It’s difficult see how people in this situation could have a claim for mis-selling. But then I am not a lawyer and Healys may have a different opinion.

  • andyp says:

    Nigel. We have all been mis-sold as none of us would have taken on a property knowing that it had already been mortgaged.

    Will Healys be pursuing on behalf of everyone? Surely not

  • @Gerry & Costas – I do not have any details of how Healys’ are approaching this work, but it seems to be very similar to the approach I took in my consultancy business:

    1. Review the current situation and identify the various options available to the client.

    2. Assess the various options together with benefits/drawbacks and budgetary cost of each option and present them to the client.

    3. In conjunction with the client, decide which (if any) of the options to pursue.

    It looks as if the €3,000 covers 1 and 2 above, but you would need to discuss this with Healys to confirm.

    I should also point out that law firms are not charitable organisations. I used to charge for the time and effort I put into researching the current situation and providing costed options – it’s the way things are done.

    I have heard from other people that one law firm is charging £15,000 – with no guarantee of success.

    @andyp – Healys are looking into cases of possible mis-selling.

  • andyp says:

    Perhaps Healys could clarify what type of cases they are looking to pursue.

    I assume it is not your run of the mill title deed fraud but rather for those that have been additionally caught out by the type of mortgage they were talked in to taking out to buy the house.

  • Gerry Thompson says:

    €3000+VAT+more on any action, if this is correct that sounds a lot of money when you are taking on the Cyprus system.

    I assume that once the company look at your case/documentation that they would know if you had a very good chance of getting a result/compensation so why don’t they operate a no win no fee then?

    Gerry

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Healys apparently want 3,000 Euros + Vat to peruse your sales contract / legal paperwork plus any correspondence and then tell you if further actions are recommended, presumably at further cost?

  • Richard says:

    Thanks Nigel – a really good article and fantastic piece of news.

    I’d make three comments:

    1) We must all remember – when it comes to ‘mis-selling’ property in Cyprus – whilst a portion of the blame certainly rests with the Cypriots – some Brits on very nice commission schemes with Cypriot builders, lawyers, bankers etc have a certain amount of music to face as well in the next few years – many of them have been far from what I’d view as ‘the good guys’!

    2) The fact that there are so many people in this collective boat is great. It means if we work hand-in-glove with those professional Cypriot organisations who are keen to work with us all (and in doing so – potentially restore the appeal and respect of foreign investors) we all participate in ‘win win’. So far – the property market in Cyprus (from both a local perspective on the island – and back home in the UK at the many property events) have hardly set the greatest benchmark example of ‘win win’ in the period 2000-2008.

    3) UK Property owners in Cyprus ideally need to grow a diverse but connected portfolio of support groups and associations that act fairly and responsibly. This site & the people behind it have made a highly respected start on this – but we all need to pull together and do our bit. In basic terms – I’d suggest the following:

    i) Contact your Euro MEP. Outline the problems you are facing in an objective way. Be honest – ask for help. If Euro MEP’s receive a handful of letters & e-mails – so what? If up and down the UK – they get 20 thousand – well, that’s an item on the agenda in the EU that’s less likely to get brushed under the carpet!
    Here’s a useful link:http://www.europarl.org.uk/section/your-meps/your-meps

    ii) It may be worth approaching these lawyers to see if they are prepared to collect vital ‘overview’ data and stats (where they are allowed under their code of conduct to release obviously). Eg:

    a) The number of properties in Cyprus owned outright by British people overseas still without title deeds..
    b) The number of people ‘advised’ to have a Swiss Franc mortgage by broker’s without full and suitably licensed/regulated UK FSA accreditation at the time. Foreign currency mortgages are a very risk-laden option that severely impact your exit-strategy if the currencies fluctuate badly the wrong way. Of course – everyone selling them explained that up-front … didn’t they?
    c) The number of people who purchased ‘off plan’ property vs completed or refurbished property.
    d) The ‘range’ of fees charged for basic conveyancing and legal work by law firms regulated by the C.B.A (Cyprus Bar Association)
    e) The ‘prospectus projections vs the finished article’ ratings of buyers of off-plan property in Cyprus. This is of course subjective – but I’d wager it’s fairly easy to benchmark this using some fairly common criteria.

    By gathering this type of data – we find some interesting patterns emerging – and with it – some possible solutions (not to mention maybe even the possibility of class action lawsuits against the perpetrators of the worst atrocities to unaware buyers).

    Overall – I think it’s excellent news and feel it’s maybe the start of some rational thinking entering the frame.

  • @Gerry – Conflict International, the company that operated out of Grantham Street in Lincoln (not be confused with a London-based private detective agency of the same name) is no more.

    Blade Dispute Resolution is a ‘new’ company operating out of the the same Lincoln address.

    Richard Hayes and Toby Gebhard, their legal consultants, visited Cyprus and spoke with a number of law firms, including Zambartas LLC (Louise was in the UK at the time dealing with some family matters).

    I don’t know which firm they are using in Cyprus, but is isn’t Zambartas LLC.

    (I have searched the Law Society membership database for them both and their company – they are not listed).

    And £5,000 is a lot – what were they offering to do for the money?

  • Gerry Thompson says:

    Hello, I did ask a question on the east forum regarding a company called http://www.conflict-international.com/ sometime ago and I spoke to them and they offered help in Cyprus via there contact Louise Zambartas so I asked for a quote relating to our problems of being mis-sold a property and was quoted £5000 and we never had that money and to tell you the truth after being coned once I was not going to be coned again and it all sounded odd.

    Anyway I just tried the site and It’s not running now and the site ended on the 08/01/11

    It certainly sounds like the same thing

  • Denis O'Hare says:

    This arrangement was set up following on from CPAG being inundated with calls for help from worried buyers.

    Over the last few years hundreds, if not thousands of UK based buyers were sold ‘investments’ in Cyprus property mainly by financial advisers in the UK, but also by other sales organisations, both in the UK and Cyprus. Some of these advisers are UKFSA (Financial Services Authority) regulated and ultimately are covered by the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

    The investment schemes were on the basis that the rental income on these properties would pay the mortgages that buyers were also advised to take out to fund the purchases. Many were also advised to take out foreign currency mortgages (e.g. Swiss Francs) on the basis that these were low volatility, low interest and therefore low risk currencies which has turned out not to be the case due to worsening currency exchange rates against the pound.

    It should be noted that the Cypriot banks make additional foreign exchange fees on these types of mortgages.

    These buyers have seen their payments (on a Sterling basis) soar as the currencies went against them to the point that the payments are, according to some buyers almost double what they budgeted for.

    In addition, they have been placed in arrangements where undisclosed to buyers the developer is allowed to draw down on the mortgages to complete the ongoing stages of the development. In some situations, we hear monies have been advanced without the stage being completed.

    Clearly, in this situation the buyers have outgoings but no incomings and this plus the delays experienced in the delivery of properties has meant that many buyers are in financial difficulties, especially with any interest penalties. In addition, the current market value of these properties, according to buyers is possibly half of what they paid to purchase them.

    Moreover, buyers have discovered that the developers have taken prior mortgages on these sites and rumours abound regarding foreclosure by the banks.

    Some buyers have been unable to make these mortgage payments, others see it as futile to pour good money after bad by continuing to make payments, especially if the developer may go bust. Note: We have already seen threatening letters by a UK debt collection company on behalf of one Cypriot bank. As a result, many buyers are now concerned about legal action in Cyprus by banks and the protection of their UK assets – i.e. homes – as a result of UK enforcement of the court order.

    The bottom line is that many buyers have been placed in these situations by trusting their advisers and not really understanding what they were getting into. In addition there have been irregularities which have taken place involving lawyers. It also appears the negligence in not informing buyers of developers’ mortgages can be pinned on several of the parties involved.

    Not surprisingly, buyers now don’t know who to trust in order to protect themselves.

    In this situation, as you would imagine there are all kinds of organisations popping out the woodwork offering to ‘help’ these buyers. For example, one of the UK selling agents originally involved in getting people into these situations is now touting on behalf of a Paphos based law firm. We hear that one law firm is asking for ridiculous amounts of money up front in order to support buyers, without supplying details of how this will be achieved and whether more money will be required later.

    The overall legal situation is complex and although there are common threads, each buyer’s situation could be somewhat different from the next.

    Nevertheless, what we can see is that is that buyers have been placed in these situations in the past by lack of information, especially legal, about the true risks. In order to meet the coming challenges what they will certainly need is a full understanding of their legal situation in both the UK and Cyprus, plus the options open to them in order to make a fully informed decision.

    Accordingly, Healys a leading city firm in the UK and regulated by the Law Society, will front this endeavour, supported by the leading Cyprus law firm of Zambartas. Initially, their straightforward offer is (for a set fee) to examine all the paperwork and other details of the purchase in order to give a dual legal opinion (UK and Cyprus) on the buyer’s current circumstances and the options open to that buyer in protecting and pursuing their legal rights.

    At this stage the buyer client decides on a fully informed basis, in conjunction with Healys if requested, what course of action to take next.

    With a large law firm such as Healys this offer will hardly make them a fortune and I would have thought that they will not want to risk their reputation by failing to supply the highest levels of duty of care, but I do know that the partner involved Chris Christofi has strong feelings about helping buyers in Cyprus.

    Personally, I would like to think that this initial incursion by Healys, who we are aware have contacts and clout, will blossom into something a lot bigger.

    Nevertheless, we should make it clear that CPAG’s main focus remains on the ongoing battle to obtain Title Deeds for the many other thousands of buyers at risk.

    Many thanks for all of you who support us – and especially to Nigel Howarth.

  • mrs s demetriou says:

    we purchased our property in Paralimni Famagusta from a developer in Frenaros 16yrs ago and we are still waiting for deeds been to court won the case but still nothing seems to me the laws in Cyprus are non-existent unless you have (messon) which means knowing people in places can you advice us thank you.

  • @Unbelievable – Chris Christofi is not working in partnership with Healys, he is a partner in the Healys law firm.

  • tom says:

    Get behind this collaboration it is the way forward. The personal are the best in Cyprus and the UK for sorting out troubles in Cyprus.

  • Unbelievable says:

    Should also mention – same applies for the Greek Cypriot Lawyers working in partnership with Healys.

    They must declare if they have family connections or vested interests in any party they are suing.

    They should also declare if they are connected to anyone working in the Cyprus Law Courts (including the Judge)

  • Unbelievable says:

    @ Nigel – Whilst the news of Healys Law Firm wanting to take on the Cyprus property scandals, is very good news..

    We must be very careful here when dealing with Greek Cypriot Lawyers.

    Why? – Cyprus is a tiny island with a tiny adult working population. Most Cypriots know and keep in some form of contact with their entire extended family. Uncles, Aunts, Cousins (1st,2nd,3rd & 4th)

    Greek Lawyers (from Greece) might be better to use, as they are free from Cypriot nepotism and business ties.

    @Andrew – all I can suggest is listen very carefully to the advise Healys are giving. Sit back and be cautious before handing over any cash. If they take on your case, get them to clearly state in writing that they Are Not connected to anyone in the case and there is No Conflict of Interest !

    If they refuse to agree – Take it as a Warning..

  • Clive Fletcher says:

    Wishing this every success for those that have been criminally defrauded and mis-sold property, but won’t the Cyprus law firms just ensure that cases are delayed and delayed. Will probably work best if cases are taken to the EU Courts or International Courts where the local lawyers and developers cannot interfere with the due process of law.

    Good luck.

  • Pete says:

    Very good and what sort of ridiculous amount of money will that end up costing ?

  • @Andrew – Healys is a respectable City law firm governed by UK Rules which, unlike those of Cyprus, are strictly enforced with severe penalties for transgressors.

    Also, Denis O’Hare & CPAG were instrumental in setting this up.

  • Andrew says:

    I am surprised that it has taken so long for a UK based firm to look for business in this area. Especially when so many practices are more than eager to take on large scale compensation claims.

    Being the eternal sceptic, I do hope that this is not just an arm of another morally bankrupt Cypriot legal firm.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Have signed up to newsletter and emailed Chris for more information.

    Let’s get it on!!!

  • Peter says:

    Is there a problem? My solicitor told me the reason for the delay with title deeds was the number of buyers, but at Paphos Land Registry the delay was minimal and in any case would be no more than 12-18 months.

    She told me being an ex-colony British Law applied so it was as safe as buying a home in England.

    That was in August 2002 and still I am waiting….

  • Dave UK says:

    Everyone in the UK reading this article –

    Go to Healys website and subscribe to their news letter….EVERYONE must do this.

    Imagine – Healys Law Firm having 10,000+ UK clients asking for help with their Cyprus investments.

    Imagine – the might Healys will have and how far they can push MEP’s & Cypriot MP’s.

    Imagine – the potential size of the War Chest.

  • Unbelievable says:

    Well Done to Nigel, Conor O’Dwyer & Denis O’Hare for all their hard work. Bringing up-to-date news to everyone around the globe and fighting for a just worthy cause.

    I will definitely be looking into using Healys Law Firm to help with my issue in Cyprus.

    I hope that 1000’s of others will do the same.

    UK Cypriot ‘Barristers’ will make a Big difference in this fight for justice. No one really wants to see Cyprus go down the pan. Most of us love the island and we want our investments to grow over the years. We also want our Title Deeds, so we have something to pass on to our children in later years.

    I hope Healys receive an overwhelming number of customers asking for help. This will enable the Law Firm to recruit the Top UK Greek Cypriot Barristers with the guts to take on the Cypriot Supreme Courts.

    Watch this space…

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