Linda and David Orams
photo by: Geoff Pugh
THE END - 19 January 2010
Orams lost the case.
Read the summary of Orams Case prepared by the Naomi Mehmet & Partners law firm.
INFORMATION BELOW IS OUTDATED.
UPDATE - 6 SEPTEMBER 2006
Linda and David Orams has won the case.
The verdict was announced on 6 September 2006.
The judgement allows others in the same position to invest in TRNC without the threat of enforcement of judgments rendered in the Republic of Cyprus in the EU.
It is expected that property prices will rise around 20% immediately after this.
TRNC Exchange title deeds can now be considered 100% safe to purchase.
Read BBC NEWS Article
Download Official Court Judgment Text (PDF)
Read discussions on Orams Case on our discussion board
Read latest property news related to Orams case
Land and Property in North Cyprus
Since 1974, when Cyprus was divided by the Green Line, there has been much discussion over the status of property and lands on either side of the border. During the events of 1974, many Turkish Cypriots fled north, leaving their homes and lands in the south, while Greek Cypriots fled south, again leaving houses and lands behind. Whilst some such lands in the south have been claimed by the Greek Cypriot authorities (to the extent that Larnaca airport is largely built on former Turkish Cypriot land), in North Cyprus, the land’s status is recognised by the type of title deed applied.
The Oram Case and North Cyprus
One single court case has brought the whole issue to public attention, the case of Linda and David Orams. In 2002, the British couple built a house on land originally owned (i.e. pre 1974) by Meletis Apostolides, a Greek Cypriot now living in the south. Mr Apostolides and his family fled their home and lands during the events of 1974, when Mr Apostolides was aged 24. Mr Apostolides gained a court order from the Nicosia District Court in south Cyprus, which ordered the Orams to demolish the house, return to the land, and pay compensation to Mr Apostolides. Under the laws of the TRNC, the Orams are the legal owners of their property.
Whilst such court orders are applicable in EU countries, as South Cyprus is, it is not enforceable in North Cyprus, which has its own judicial system and is not a member of the EU. There are also legal presidents of south Cyprus court rulings.
The Brussels Convention
Therefore, the lawyers acting for Mr Apostolides have tried to enforce the order in the UK, against the Oram’s other assets held in the UK. The lawyers are invoking the Brussels Convention on Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments, which allows the UK enforcement of a judgment delivered by a court of another EU country. However, the same Convention holds that a UK court can deny the EU court judgement if it were against public policy in the UK. Also, the EC regulation rules that a judgment made in the south Cyprus is only enforceable in the UK if it is equally enforceable in Cyprus, which it is not due to the different legal systems in the north and south of Cyprus.
Cherie Blair and the Oram Case
The latest member of the Oram’s defence team in December 2005 was none other than Cherie Booth QC, otherwise known as Cherie Blair, the wife of the British Prime Minister. Her involvement in defending the property rights of the Orams against the Greek Cypriot court ruling has given the court case the highest profile possible in the UK. It is also a potential source of embarrassment for the British government, who refuse officially to recognise the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, but whose citizens make up 90% of those Buying Property in North Cyprus and whose Prime Minister’s wife is defending a British couple’s right to their North Cyprus property!
The British parliament's Foreign Affairs Select Committee stated in April 2005 that British property buyers in northern Cyprus "risk exposing themselves to legal action by Greek Cypriots who may be the rightful owners of those properties".
The UN Annan Plan for North Cyprus
The resolution of the case has far-reaching political implications. A win for Mr Apostolides could open the floodgates to a series of individual land claims, which would undermine the attempts by the UN and others to unify the island once again. Annan Plan proposed by the UN suggested that settlements could be reached on the value of the lands in 1974, but considering that land prices are far higher now, and the difference between prices in the north and south, probably make this unworkable. However, some sort of reciprocal settlement deal would certainly make the situation much fairer for all and clearer for potential buyers. At present, land or property holding a pre-1974 Turkish Cypriot title deeds command higher prices than other kinds of title deeds.
Lodging EU court judgments in the UK
If other south Cyprus court judgments are to be possibly served on UK owners through the UK judicial system, the foreign judgment must be lodged at the High Court in London, without informing the other party involved. A Notice of Registration is then served upon the last known address of the persons who are the subject of the foreign court judgement. They have the right to appeal within one month of the Notice being served, or two months if they are not living in the house at the time of the Notice being served. Any appeal is likely to focus on the issue of public policy as shown above, where the EU Regulation states “that a judgment shall not be recognised if such recognition is manifestly contrary to public policy in the Member State in which recognition is sought (Article 34.1)”. The argument is simple; if the order is not enforceable in the country where the events took place, it is not valid in the UK.
TRNC international recognition
The issue of whether the TRNC is recognised by the UN, and in turn the UK, is not in itself a issue in the case. Back in 1978, a case was brought over the seizure of North Cyprus hotels by the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus (the predecessor of the TRNC), at which Lord Denning was presiding. Lord Denning stated that: “If it were necessary to make a choice between these two conflicting doctrines, I would unhesitatingly hold that the courts of this country can recognize the laws or acts of a body which is in effective control of a territory even though it has not been recognized by Her Majesty’s Government.”
Trial date for the Oram Case
The High Court was to decide on the Oram’s case on July 18 - 20 2006, but only in terms of procedure and public policy, as outlined above. The High Court date ironically falls on the anniversary of the Turkish intervention, on 20th July 1974. The verdict of the trial has been delayed until the Autumn 2006.