The Turkish Cypriot authorities have purchased the house belonging to Linda and David Orams. Ownership of the house has been transferred to the Ministry of Finance’s Public Estates and Supplies Department.
The house which is Lapta still remains under a court order for its demolition.
The Orams, who built their home on what they believed to be exchange land, were forced to vacate after a Greek Cypriot sued them for building on his land, which was built on Greek Cypriot property and which they were forced to vacate nine years ago after the landowner sued. The villa should have been demolished under various court rulings bur the authorities in the north have not complied.
The land and property that was at the heart of a lengthy legal wrangle involving the couple, its original Greek Cypriot owner and Cherie Blair, the wife of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, has been bought by the TRNC government for £160,000. The title transfer of the property to the Turkish Cypriot authorities in early 2019 was legal, according to the couple’s lawyer.
Reportedly, the villa will be turned into an elderly home or an orphanage
However, according to Constantis Candounas, the lawyer for landowner Meletis Apostolides, the court decision against the Orams for the demolition of the villa still applies. It will be up to his client whether or not he decides to take any legal action Candounas said.
The Orams built the house in 2002. Apostolides later sued at the Nicosia courts and won but the judgement could not be enforced in the north.
Apostolides then took the case in the UK where in September 2006, the High Court of Justice ruled in favour of the Orams. He then appealed to the British Court of Appeal which referred the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The ECJ ruled in favour of Apostolides and the case was returned to the Court of Appeal in England which in January 2010 unanimously upheld the ruling of the ECJ holding that the ruling of the Cypriot court should be applied in the UK.
The ECJ had ruled that the decision by a court of the Republic of Cyprus must be recognised and enforced by the other member states, even if it concerns land in the north of the island.
The case has been described as a landmark test case as it set a precedent for other Greek Cypriot refugees to bring similar actions to court.
In October 2006, the [South] Cyprus criminal code was amended to provide that buying, selling, renting, promoting or mortgaging a property without the permission of the owner (the person whose ownership is registered with the Republic of Cyprus Land Registry, including Greek Cypriots displaced from northern Cyprus in 1974) was a criminal offence with a maximum prison sentence of seven years. However, the law was not retroactive and could not apply in the Orams case.
Cyprus Today, Cyprus Mail