Latest Headlines

Who is the real culprit?

In a letter to the Cyprus Mail on Sunday John Knowles, a resident of Peyeia, talks of the negligence of lawyers and their failure to represent foreigners buying property in a professional manner.

PARLIAMENT is apparently preparing legislation that will protect crooked developers and their bankers by loading the innocent buyers with the responsibility for paying off mortgages taken out on their properties without their knowledge or consent.

This legislation will let off Scot-free those really responsible.  I refer, of course, to the lawyers who played a key role in virtually every property transaction.  The innocent foreign buyer comes to this country and immediately engages a lawyer to look after his interests.

Among the lawyer’s professional responsibilities is to ensure that there are no encumbrances on the property to be purchased or, if there are, to inform the would-be buyer in good time.  All of the problems related to developers’ mortgages on the property, undisclosed to the buyer, obviously stem from the lawyer’s failure to do his job through either negligence or criminal intent to deceive, in collusion with the developer.

In a word, who is the real culprit here?  Only partly the developer, who took out the mortgage, or the banker who may well have acted in good faith.  The real culprit is the lawyer for the buyer.  It is he who should be required to pay off the mortgage taken out on the property without the knowledge of the wholly innocent buyer, who had trusted the lawyer whom he had hired to represent him and to protect his interests.

We call upon Parliament to place the blame where it really belongs by ensuring that, where appropriate, the lawyers are held personally and financially responsible for this title deeds/mortgages fiasco.  Failure to resolve this issue honestly and fairly in this way is contributing directly to the destruction of both the property market and the Cypriot economy in general.

Whether Parliament, largely made up of lawyers, will do its sworn duty, is another matter entirely.  But it’s almost unbelievable readiness to call upon the victims to pay the bills, will surely destroy what little credibility this country’s justice system still has in the eyes of the outside world.

John Knowles, Peyeia

Readers' comments

Comments on this article are no longer being accepted.

  • Alan Waring says:

    In Castles Built on Sand Part 3 last year (see this site archive)I wrote: “In the wake of the Beaumont & Sims case, the Cyprus Bar Association has apparently instructed its members to advise clients buying property of the risks if the developer goes bust. However, ‘the risks’ of the conveyance are open to very wide interpretation. Is the advice simply ‘Be on your guard’ or does it include, for example, anything about the financial stability, probity and integrity of the developer? Who, indeed, would be responsible for obtaining such a due diligence report and at what cost? Reliance on credit reference agency reports and banker references is unlikely to be sufficient. Should the CBA also instruct its members to insist on bank guarantees for client purchases or a bank waiver where mortgaged property has been purchased?”

    Unless the CBA advice to members was very specific e.g. do a thorough search for X, Y Z; obtain this, check that etc etc I see no hope for improvement. I am aware of some lawyers being very uncertain as to the scope of ‘advise them of the risks’.

  • AnnDee says:

    @RS. Friends of mine bought a piece of land 20 years ago and deposited the contract of sale with LR. They didn’t apply for the title as they weren’t ready to retire here and thought they were protected.

    Ten years ago they tried to get their title so they could apply for planning permission and their lawyer discovered two mortgages had been taken out on the land. Furthermore the seller’s company was in liquidation and all his titles were with the Official Receiver.

    Their lawyer’s advice was to put a Windorama shed on the plot and live in that….meanwhile the owner of the company continues to carry on his living, still buying and selling plots of land in the name of a new company.

    On paper these are worth over a million euros and my friends continue to live in a caravan.

    Their happy retirement has been destroyed.

  • @R.S. – Yes, there are so many loopholes in the laws that anyone with an ounce of understanding can exploit them.

  • R.S. says:

    As I understand it, a developer can take out a mortgage on a property even AFTER it has been sold because of the delay in issuing new title deeds in the name of the new owner.

    If this is correct, the buyer is not protected even if the lawyer do his job at the time of purchase.

  • @andyp – There are four news articles about the Beaumonts:

    Landmark ruling by the Supreme Court – April 24th, 2010

    Eleven year pursuit of justice takes heavy toll – May 1st, 2010

    Cyprus Bar Association to mull over landmark ruling – May 4th, 2010

    Cyprus Bar to advise lawyers after landmark ruling – May 16th, 2010

    The easiest way to find any article is to use the search facility and look through the results. To find these four articles, I searched for “Supreme Court” (in quotes) which threw up 12 articles.

    You can also get a list of all the articles in the Archive.

  • andyp says:

    @ Clive. That is not the case although the lawyers might tell you so. In April 2009 The Cyprus Supreme Court ruled in favour of a British couple, The Beaumonts. The Judges also set down the basic rules that lawyers should be adhering to.

    Nigel can correct me if I am wrong. Probably some articles here in archive.

    In fact I think it is in above link–Cyprus Bar Association to mull over landmark ruling.

  • out of the frying pan into the fire says:

    Yep it’s all said and written here.

    Corrupt Lawyers who misuse the power of attorney and sign you up for some thing you know nothing about. Stick two fingers up at you , shout and swear at you.

    Yep come and buy in Cyprus. It’s a form of slow death. Which is what all retirees want – I would suggest.

  • Robert Cairns says:

    Here Here!

  • Whirlybird says:

    I fully agree with John Knowles views on the responsibility of the lawyers towards their clients during the purchase of their property. My wife and I paid for an extension to our off plan home the new plan was short of size, lawyer says it is not his business it is between us and the developer.

    Our underfloor heating does not work properly, lawyer wants nothing to do with it nor does consumer protection, they told us that because we are not Cypriot there was no one in their system to help us.

    Finally when we asked if there were any encumbrances on our estate/house approximately 6 months ago we still don’t have a reply from him.

    We hear stories like this all the time about what the various lawyers and developers etc. in Cyprus are doing /not doing to their clients all in the name of making a fat profit from them. Who can the clients turn to for help?—– Nobody, especially here in Cyprus.

    We love this beautiful country and intend to stay despite shortcomings of the money grabbers and their lies. Lets not just try to repair the damage between the North and South of the island, go the whole hog and stamp out the greed and the official inadequacies rife in this country.

  • EleniP says:

    By the way I agree with Peter all the way.

  • EleniP says:

    Lets think a little bit here. Who are the lawyers??? Cyprus Lawyer = Cyprus Minister or Member of Parliament or Member of a political party or son, brother, father, uncle, koumbaro of all the above…so there is no way in hell your going to get them to pay for any of there underhanded, illegal work.

  • Bob Briggs says:

    ( re: Mr Clive Fletcher’s recent comment)
    Dear Sir, the solicitor should automatically carry out a conveyancing search, you should not have to put this in writing to them.

    It just goes to show with a considerable proportion of these people, you cannot trust them as far as you can kick them!

  • Clive Fletcher says:

    Be interesting to see if any replies to this letter mention, as far as I understand it, that there are no Conveyancing Laws as such in Cyprus and Cyprus lawyers are not under any obligation to carry out Searches, as they are in the UK, unless the client clearly instructs them to do so in writing, hence the local Bar Association takes no interest in such cases. As I say, as I understand it.

    If you clearly instructed your solicitor in writing to do a through search and he agreed to do so and then an issues was found, then this letter would be correct.

  • Peter says:

    These people live in “Cloud-Cuckoo-Land” do they really think I’m going to pay for their good life in my retirement? It shows the knowledge and depth of understanding of the average Cypriot. My developer is convinced I sold a £1m+ house in London before I came to Cyprus (just like the rest of the British expats) and that I only drive a Daewoo to hide my wealth from him. You can take the peasant off the land, but you can’t take the peasant out of the developer. The same goes for the Banker and Lawyer

  • The views expressed in readers' comments are not necessarily shared by the Cyprus Property News.

  • Text size

SELECTED REPORTS

Back to top