Linda and David Orams apply for Planning Permission to Demolish Villa
North Cyprus Orams
21 January 2010 - Linda & David Orams will apply for Planning Permission to demolish the Lapta villa
Following the adverse judgment of the UK Court of Appeal, issued on 19 January 2010, the Orams are now under pressure to advise the Court how they plan to execute the judgment. We are informed that they must present a plan to the UK Court of Appeal today and there is a time limit of some 14 days for them to implement the directions of the court
Plan for Execution of Ruling
Linda and David Orams have arrived in the TRNC and have been engaged in intensive discussions with their lawyers, together with several prominent government officials.
Will the house at Lapta be demolished ?
1. It appears that they will need to make a Planning Permission application in order to demolish the property in Lapta.
2. We are unsure how they intend to comply with the direction that they should hand the land to Mr Meletis Apostolides.
3. We are also unsure as to whether the UK Court of Appeal has determined or confirmed the amount of 'rent' due to Mr Apostolides. It could be that it is levied at around £300 per month since 2002, making it some £25,000.
4. More significant are Mr Meletis' legal costs which are estimated to be near £1.5m, and these will or have been allocated to the Orams
The Orams will appear to do their utmost to comply with the ruling of the UK Court of Appeal. Otherwise they risk being deemed in contempt of court. However, it will not be a simple matter for them to demolish the property in Lapta, nor to deliver possession of the land to Mr Meletis.
This is due to the fact that legal obstacles could well exist in the TRNC which may delay or even thwart their best efforts to execute the directions of the Court. From the outset, it would appear that the Orams require planning permission from the TRNC Planning Office in order to demolish the property. As we only have experience of making applications to the TRNC Planning Office in order to construct properties, we can only conjecture as to the process which a demolition request entails. However, we can well imagine that the application process could be convoluted and problematic.
The requirement to 'deliver the land to Mr Apostolides' is even more problematic. Firstly, we are unsure as to whether this should take place immediately or after the property has been demolished. Secondly, in any event, the Orams ability to deliver the land to him is severely limited by the fact that the property allegedly has the benefit of TRNC title deeds. If this is the case, then any effective delivery of the land to Mr Apostolides will require the transfer of the TRNC deeds into his name.
There are precedents for such a transfer in the TRNC, and they should be processed by the Immovable Properties Commission. This body has taken it modus operandi from the guidelines of the Annan Plan. With respect to properties where the current user, that is the Orams, have constructed a dwelling, the Property Commission is unlikely to offer restitution to a dispossessed Greek Cypriot owner. Instead, it will attempt to offer equivalent land in a different location.
It can be seen from the above catalogue of problems, that the whole basis of the Greek Cypriot case, namely that this is simply a private dispute between two parties, is a gross distortion of the situation.
There is an evident and overwhelming public policy aspect to the dispute. Linda & David Orams have bought land which has TRNC title deeds, and presumably also have planning permission for construction of a dwelling, together with Permission to Purchase and reside in that dwelling. The ruling of the Greek Cypriot Court does not recognise any of these rights and instead recognises the ownership, probably by inheritance, of Mr Apostolides, based on title deeds which were presumably issued prior to 1974, and possibly some considerable time before that date.
Therefore the dispute is essentially one between the TRNC, which has issued legal documents affirming the rights of the Orams to acquire the land, construct a residence, and live peacefully therein, and the Greek Republic of Cyprus which affirms the rights of Mr Apostolides to the land and considers the Orams to be unlawful squatters.
These considerations lead us to the opinion that this case does possess a strong public policy dimension, and on this basis, the ruling should not have been registered in England by the UK Court of Appeal.
What will the Orams do ?
It appears that the plan will be as follows -
1. The Orams will take strenuous steps to comply with the various court judgments, lest they are judged to be in contempt of court. With the help of their backers, the payment of some £25,000 to Mr Meletis should not be a major problem.
2. The Orams will be able to provide documentary evidence to the UK court that it is not possible to demolish the Lapta property, nor to renounce or transfer their TRNC title deeds in favour of Mr Meletis, nor to effectively deliver the land back to him, within the stipulated time period. This is due to the de facto power and authority of the TRNC.
3. The UK Court of Appeal will then be under pressure to review its ruling, and although, this pleading for extra time does not constitute an appeal, it will effectively open the door for the Orams to introduce the 'public policy' dimension of this case. Once the TRNC authorities become involved, the ruling will become discredited and enforcement could be postponed indefinitely.
In conclusion, we repeat our opinion that Mr Meletis will never take possession of the land at Lapta, and nor will any other Greek Cypriot who follows his example. This will only take place if there is a political solution. President Christofias is well placed to initiate progress. His administration is the EU recognised government of the island, the recent legal success has affirmed the rights of dispossessed persons, and the Greek Cypriot electorate wishes to see tangible progress. The talks between Presidentss Christofias and Talat remain the best forum to resolve the Cyprus problem.
At Wellington Estates, we only build on land which we ourselves own. At present we have 4 development sites in TRNC. Each site has been paid for from our own funds, and we make extensive enquiries into the history of land before making a purchase. We are so confident in the integrity of the land we own that we can provide our customers with a LAND GUARANTEE. This guarantee means that, in the highly unlikely event of a challenge by a Greek Cypriot claimant, Wellington will settle any compensation claim or provide a full customer refund.
To learn more about this GUARANTEE OF SECURITY, please contact us.
Update of 25 January 2010
As expected, there are adminstrative hurdles to be overcome before the property can be demolished and there is unlikely to be a demolition team at the property in the near future. Indeed, it would be an extremely brave TRNC contractor who would demolish the property, with our without TRNC government approval. Linda and David Orams have wisely vacated the property and are staying with friends. It could well be that the Orams house at Lapta will become another permanent landmark of the tragedy of Cyprus. In future, it may well become a tourist attraction with Mrs Orams serving tea from the house next door, together with cakes, sprinkled with tears.
Update of 28 January 2010
As expected, a TRNC spokesman, Mr Hasan Ercakica, has announced that the TRNC will not assist the Orams to implement the decision of the UK Court of Appeal by permitting the demolition of the Lapta villa. Instead, he suggests that Mr Apostolides makes an application to the TRNC Immovable Properties Commission in respect of his claim. This announcement was predictable because it would be unthinkable for the TRNC authorities to accept the UK Court of Appeal ruling, and by implication, the authority of a Greek Cypriot Court, sitting in South Nicosia, to make decisions on property matters in North Cyprus, or indeed on any matter in North Cyprus. This places Linda and David Orams in a difficult position, and we understand that they have now removed all their personal effects from the property and have accepted with great sadness that they may never enter the premises again.
Copyright © Leslie Hardy – 21 January 2009