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