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euro_investor2

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  1. In case there was any doubt the the Orams ruling was a one-off, the dispossessed legitimate owners of a hotel in turkish-occupied Kyrenia have acquired the details of 60 tourists who stayed in their hotel over the last year, and are beginning proceedings against them for civil trespass. North Cyprus hotel visitors may be sued, lawyer says
  2. Hello everybody, An update from the long-running Orams saga. The Court of Appeal has handed down its final judgment on the matter. As expected, the court ruled that an initial ruling by the District Court in Nicosia ordering the Orams' to demolish the holiday villa they built on land belonging to a Greek Cypriot refugee ethnically cleansed from the occupied North of the island after the turkish invasion in 1974 is enforceable in the United Kingdom, and chose to enforce the original judgment. The Orams' must also pay rent/damages, and also pay the plaintiff's legal costs. The article: The link: Orams Cyprus verdict
  3. Is it not a criminal offence in the United Kingdom for example, to demolish a home on land you do not own and then build a new home on it, or to comission someone else to do this for you? Although I'm open to being corrected, I suspect that there are criminal statutes that would catch this kind of behaviour. Even the act of travelling to and from the occupied areas of Cyprus is fraught with danger: if you fly direct to occupied northern Cyprus to look at potential investment properties, you've entered the Republic of Cyprus illegally via a closed port, for which criminal penalties apply. Again at a guess, I suspect that it's illegal to enter the United Kingdom in any way apart from using a legal point of entry.
  4. There is no longer extradition between EU member states, instead there is the European Arrest Warrant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Arrest_Warrant) which would apply, given that the maximum penalty for these offences exceed the 1 year minimum for which a European Arrest Warrant can be issued. This could be used against a non-European purchaser who simply enters an EU member state.
  5. Indeed - as far as the courts are concerned, they ought not expect - and will certainly not receive, any sympathy or mercy. Their only hope is that some concessions will be granted in a political settlement, limiting the damages awarded against them for their illegal occupation and development of the properties. And even then, why would such a concession be granted in a political settlement to foreigners? Only if foreign governments make concessions in turn - and the only foreign government in a position to make concessions is the government of the United Kingdom, which has sovereign bases on Cyprus. If the United Kingdom is not prepared to deal, her citizens who are in the wrong will be treated harshly. The prospect of the legal title of the land being awarded to them without the agreement of the legal owners of the land by the Republic of Cyprus is precisely nil. Foreign usurpers would do well to explain why, in their opinion, the TRNC authorities do not allow foreigners to purchase pre-1974 titled land, while at the same time encourage them to purchase so-called "exchange" title land.
  6. I believe that's being tried elsewhere. A completely different set of circumstances however, because there was never a Palestinian State. A freehold title is a document that says that you own your land subject to the authority of a sovereign state. If a dispossessed Palestinian turns up to an Israeli court with a title deed, the court will ask him which sovereign state issued the deed, and the answer is? Although I must admit I'm not fully up-to-date with the legal status of the British Mandate for Palestine in the years from 1918 to 1947, but I would guess the last sovereign state in Palestine was the Ottoman Empire. By UN mandate, the State of Israel is sovereign within the 1949 borders, however I must admit that I am hazy as to the de jure sovereignty of the occupied West Bank and Gaza strip (perhaps Jordanian and Egyptian? I don't know). Anyway, it's certainly not Israel. If there is not a sovereign state, then under any "modern" (i.e. non tribal) system of land ownership, the actual owner of land is not trivial to determine.
  7. And now a longer post to expand on some of your points. Whoever does not care about arcane history and property law, please skip! There is a difference between how governments act, and how a government's own laws compel a government to act. New Zealand was a case of de facto conquest, but de jure treaty. When Great Britain decided to establish a colony in New Zealand, they signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the Maori chiefs, which ostensibly granted the Maori property rights. In practice, this treaty was all but ignored by the courts and parliament of New Zealand. When faced with the might of their European conquerors, the Maori were faced with the choice of having their land expropriated by force, or having expropriated peacefully. You see similar arguments from North American tribes. You end up in the strange position, that some people become rich simply because of their race, not so different from apartheid. To this I plead guilty. The laws governing land ownership in Cyprus are certainly modern, but despite being a British colony for some time, not so Anglo centric. Also, the European Union as far as it is a legal entity, operates according to "modern" laws as understood in Europe (which are not so modern, the basis for which dates back to the 6th century. In any case, when countries ascend to the European Union, a part of the agreement is that legal rulings in the member state will be respected and enforced by all other members of the Union, so long as those laws and rulings are in agreement with the EU acquis communautaire. In which places is this the case today? This sounds more like a concept of socialism but I am not sure. The "law" - or what is actually called equity in common law jurisdictions - recognises such rights. A tenant (or other party) can have an ownership (or right) in equity even if their name is not on a deed of ownership. Equitable ownership is also how the rights of mortgagors are secured in common law jurisdictions: I bought my home with a loan from the bank, and the loan is secured against the property. However, contrary to common belief, the bank's name is not on the title deed to my home, only my name is. I am the only legal owner. However, the title registry in my jurisdiction does record that the bank has an equitable interest in my home. Under certain circumstances (specifically, I fail to make my mortgage repayments), the bank can apply to the court to have their equitable interest extinguish my legal interest - in this way, they will become the legal owner. Similarly, under certain circumstances (namely, I pay off the entire loan) I can ask the bank (and if they refuse, the court) to remove the bank's equitable interest. Then I will be the only person with any kind of legal title in my home. I'm not familiar with the situation in Great Britain before Thatcher. There is a general maxim that "equity follows the law", so equity cannot give you a right explicitly denied by the law. This is not strictly correct. Only under very specific legal powers, and with due process can the "state" (or in my experience, the Crown) deprive you of your land, the most common being eminent domain. For example, the written Constitution of Australia provides that empowers the Federal government to make laws for: "the acquisition of property on just terms from any State or person for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws". The phrase "on just terms" means that the government must have a "just" process for deciding whose land to acquire, under what circumstances, and in exchange for what compensation. I'm not sure to which situation you're referring to. If you're referring to Cyprus, the Turkish state had no legal right to take any land from Cyprus. Only the State of Cyprus has the right under eminent domain to expropriate land in Cyprus. We must not confuse what is legal with what is possible. Obviously a sovereign state with a large, well-armed military can do whatever it pleases, and it might well not matter at all if it is not accepted by the victims or by the rest of the world. In the case of Cyprus, what the rest of the world (or at least the European Union) thinks matters for two reasons: (1) The bulk of the illegal property investors own assets in the European Union, which has recognised the validity of the judgment and punishment entered against a couple who broke the law with an illegal investment, and will do the same for other illegal investors. (2) Turkey seeks to join the European Union. From Turkey's point of view, it doesn't make sense for Turkey to want to join the EU when that nation does not respect the EU body of law. From the point of view of the European Union, it is not possible to admit Turkey while that state demonstrates that it does not respect EU law.
  8. Hello, You raise some excellent points which are all valid. However, the discussion we are pursuing goes way beyond the simple message I wanted to get across, namely that due to a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice regarding the situation of refugee-owned properties in the Turkish occupied areas of northern Cyprus (the "TRNC"): (1) For anyone with assets within the jurisdiction of the courts of a member state of the European Union, there are significant and potentially poorly-understood risks to investing, and (2) Those that have already made property investments considered illegal by the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus stand to lose assets held in their name, or in trust for their benefit, elsewhere in the European Union. For those that have no interest in the history of this problem, apologies for all the long winded posts!
  9. From a perspective of legal ownership, this is false. The owner of a property in law is the legal person who is listed in the appropriate register of ownership (or in the case of a trust, the beneficiaries of that trust). Legal ownership can be extinguished by certain mechanisms - for example, eminent domain, conquest, treaty, abandonment, in some juristictions squatting (which is related to abandonment), etc. None of these apply in this case. Ethnic cleansing of a region by an invading army does not extinguish the rights of the legal owners. In some juristictions, there are also Courts of Equity that may assign equitable ownership of a property to a person different to the legal owner (for example, a refugee living in an abaonded property). In the case of Cyprus, the European Court of Human Rights may also grant a refugee certain rights.
  10. Hello, It goes without saying that within the TRNC, a ruling by the ECJ, or by a court anywhere in the European Union has no effect. However, such a ruling has an impact on legal relations between any legal personality that is within the jurisdiction of the courts of the member states of the European Union. The problem for any legal person (i.e. human being or company) in the TRNC is that if a civil ruling is entered against them by the courts of the Republic of Cyprus, that ruling is enforceable against any assets owned or held for the benefit of that legal person in any member state of the European Union (and potentially beyond). This is a consequence of two factors: (1) The Government of the Republic of Cyprus is recognised by the European Union as the sole authority over the entire island, and (2) even though the EU body of laws is suspended in the occupied areas of Cyprus, rulings of the courts of the Republic of Cyprus relating to matters in the occupied part of Cyprus must be enforced by the courts of EU member states. This is the essence of the Orams ruling. The Orams' argument was that since EU law is suspended in the occupied areas, rulings of the courts of the Republic of Cyprus are not enforceable. The ECJ disagreed with this argument. As for "rich foreign speculators", I agree that most illegally occupied properties in the TRNC are not occupied by such people. The situation of bona fide Turkish Cypriot refugees who are living on property belonging to Greek Cypriots is likely to be a part of a political settlement. In fact, eviction attempts against them may not succeed in the face of a challenge in the European Court of Human Rights. However, the TRNC has also issued "exchange titled" land to settlers from mainland Turkey, again a situation that probably needs to be dealt with via a political settlement rather than a legal approach. The issue of settlers is a very contentious one - the Greek Cypriots will likely demand their properties back, and will not necessarily accept the changed demographics in a political settlement. The last group of illegal occupiers of land are the "wealthy foreign speculators", who may not be terribly wealthy compared to standards of wealth in the UK, but are certainly quite wealthy when compared to living standards in the TRNC. The large proportion of the properties they have bought are located in towns and villages entirely abandoned by Greek Cypriots. It is the interests of this group that will not be considered in any political settlement, and in the absence of a political settlement, this group is the one most vulnerable to legal challenges by the individual private citizens who are the legal owners of the land they occupy. A widely held view is that foreign investors bought up big in the TRNC knowing full well the risks, in the hope of a suitable political settlement. Their prayers were almost answered in 2004, when the Greek and Turkish communities voted in referenda on the Annan plan for Cyprus, which would've guaranteed the rights of people who had illegally "bought" former Greek Cypriot property. However, this settlement was voted down by the Greek Cypriots by a 76% - 24% margin, and the plan never went into effect. The pace of the illegal sale of land to foreign buyers has increased since then. Then there is the situation of the government and the armed forces of Turkey. Since the invasion occurred, the government of Turkey has systematically attempted to absolve its responsibility for everything that has occurred in the TRNC via a combination of denial, whitewash, and pointing to their guarantor rights on the island. The reality is that the armed forces of Turkey have engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing, systematic rape (to the point that abortion had to be temporarily legalised after the invasion), murder (including murder of civilians and uniformed combatants that had surrendered), theft of cultural and religious artifacts, the expropriation of immovable property, and an attempt to colonise the TRNC with settlers from mainland Turkey. Settlers from mainland Turkey now outnumber Turkish Cypriots by about 2:1, with many Turkish Cypriots having emigrated, including many in recent years to EU member states under passports issued by the Republic of Cyprus. The situation of the Turkish Cypriots under the armed forces of Turkey is so dire that in 2003, Turkish Cypriots successfully prosecuted Turkey through the European Court of Human Rights and compelled them to open the borders between the TRNC and the Republic of Cyprus. And finally Greece. Greece is not involved in the Cyprus dispute, apart from acting as an advocate of the rights of the Republic of Cyprus during its ascension to the European Union. Although settled by Greeks thousands of years ago, Cyprus has never been a part of the Greek state. Until 1960, Cyprus belonged to the Ottoman and afterwards to the British Empire, until it gained its independence in 1960. As per the terms of the treaty of Cyprus' independence, Greece maintains 900 soldiers in the Republic of Cyprus under its guarantor status, and has offered for years to forgo its status as a guarantor, since the idea that an EU member needs guarantees from foreign powers is seriously outdated. As for the transfer of ownership by conquest - the law has certainly in the past recognised the transfer of ownership by conquest, although such recognition more often than not comes by way of a treaty. In case of Cyprus, Turkey has constantly and repeatedly denied that their invasion of Cyprus was a war of conquest, but rather an intervention to safeguard the rights of the Turkish Cypriots. In any case, arguments to logic/fairness/might of arms are immaterial. Under Cypriot and EU law, the transfer of ownership will never be recognised in the absence of a political settlement. And the rights of foreign property investors will never be recognised in a political settlement. If Turkey and the TRNC are content to limit their legal, political, and economic interaction with the European Union, then the property will remain in the hands of the current occupiers, and the de jure ownership will be immaterial. Regardless of one's position on the Cyprus dispute, I find it difficult to fathom that a rational investor armed with a full understanding of the situation would put themselves at the mercy of a regime with such scant regard for the sanctity of property. If the TRNC authorities were happy to accept the hard currency of western investors and print off new title deeds knowing full well that the property is still in the legal ownership of a third party, what confidence would an investor have that they won't do the same thing in 5 or 10 years time, this time with the new owner on the receiving end?
  11. You are too kind! Although I have no vested interests in Cyprus, I am extremely irritated at the complicity of the UK government, especially during the Blair era. The stance of the government was not a surprise given the Blairs' form, being involved in dodgy real-estate investments. Ironically enough, Cherie Blair represented the Orams couple as the case brought against them by the legal owner of their land in Cyprus moved through the UK's legal system. So not only did the UK government not warn and discourage investors (and even sea-changers, who now stand to lose everything!), the spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, paid by the illegitimate TRNC authorities, was deeply involved in a legal case with wide-ranging political and diplomatic implications. It's almost as if the UK government sold her citizens up the river in order to advance her pro-Turkey foreign policy, of course at the expense and detriment of those investors stupid, ignorant, or greedy enough to be duped into this scam. How much mercy will those investors, stupid, greedy, and ignorant alike, now be shown by the Republic of Cyprus, and the legitimate owners of the properties concerned?
  12. It's actually a tougher problem than that. The official record of ownership of these properties is maintained by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, and the ownership will transfer from generation to generation as the properties are inherited. Even after another 200 years, the legal owners (either direct or descendants) will never simply relinquish their ownership, and the government of the RoC will not "annul" their ownership simply because time has passed without a solution. Since Cyprus has acceded to the European Union, there is now no legal mechanism by which the ownership of the properties in question as determined by the government of the Republic of Cyprus can be ignored or denied by other EU member states. To do so would unravel the most basic and fundamental principles of the European Union: say for example the British courts chose to ignore the European Court of Justice ruling. What would then stop a Bulgarian company expropriating a UK owned investment in Bulgaria, and get away with it because the Bulgarian courts chose to ignore a ruling by a UK court? There is also no mechanism within the EU for the authority of the government of the RoC to be revoked, or curtailed to cover only the Greek Cypriot controlled portion of the island. The circumstances are deadlocked such that the Republic of Cyprus holds all of the legal and economic cards, while Turkey, along with their client state enjoy the security of an ongoing occupation which is unlikely to be ever challenged by force. Politics aside, the point current and potential property investors should note well: one thing is for certain - when it comes time for the two sides to strike a bargain, the first group to be disenfranchised will be foreigners who illegally bought property. The Greek side will be out for blood, and the Turkish side will not hesitate to offer up "wealthy foreign speculators" on a platter in order to gain concessions for their own people.
  13. Hi, The division of the island into two separate zones occurred after Turkey launched a "peace operation" in order to protect the rights and preserve the security of the Turkish Cypriots in the midst of a low-intensity (near) civil war at the time which began in the early 1960's. The realities are of course much more complicated, and involve Turkey's enmity with Greece, the (at the time) strategic significance of Cyprus vis-a-vis Greece-Turkey tension, and given the continuing strategic significance of Cyprus vis-a-vis the Arab-Israeli conflicts, the eagerness of the Western powers to prevent political domination of (or at least influence in) Cyprus by Soviet sympathisers (remember, at the time Syria, and also Egypt were Soviet backed, while Israel was - and still is - US backed). Under a treaty signed in 1960, Turkey, Greece, and the United Kingdom were granted guarantor rights on the island; the purpose of the guarantor rights granted to Greece and Turkey gave those nations the right to intervene - even militarily - in affairs of the island in order to protect the interests of their respective ethnic minorities on the island. To this day, Turkey claims that her troops will be withdrawn following (in Turkey's judgement) the implementation of a settlement under which the rights of the Turkish Cypriots are guaranteed. Certainly while the transfer of property via conquest is recognised, the consequences for Turkey of such a declaration were and are too great to ever contemplate such a declaration. Turkey has never claimed that the invasion was one of conquest, but rather one of the protection of the rights of the Turkish Cypriots. The legal trick used to sell properties owned and abandoned by Greek Cypriots who were ethnically cleansed from the areas now in northern Cyprus was this: a new legal concept referred to as "exchange title" was created by authorities in the north that allowed themselves to issue new legal title to compensate individuals who had lost property in the south (and there are certainly Turkish Cypriots who legally own property in the Republic of Cyprus). Of course they got carried away with this, and started issuing exchange titles simply in order to raise hard currency. The TRNC is in a dire financial, with massive yearly budget shortfalls made up for by cash payments from Turkey. Regardless of who one believes is right, Turkey and the unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have since 1983 tried to gain international legitimacy their actions in northern Cyprus, and for the very existence of the TRNC as a political entity. These attempts have been unsuccessful, and given the entry of Cyprus into the EU, and given the ruling of the EJC in the Orams case, attempts to legitimise the illegal expropriation of immovable assets within an EU member state are doomed to fail so long as the European Union is a going concern. Worse still for foreign property investors, under the laws of the Republic of Cyprus they are liable for damages for having illegally demolished, developed, and occupied land owned by expelled Cypriots in northern Cyprus. This means that regardless of a political settlement in Cyprus, their assets - including even UK Government pensions - can and will be seized by courts everywhere in the European Union in order to satisfy judgements entered against them by courts in the Republic of Cyprus. So it is not just a matter of an investor losing their investment in Cyprus - they stand to have their assets anywhere within the reach of the legal system of all EU member states seized if they are sued by the legitimate owners of their properties in the Republic of Cyprus. Putting aside the principle of caveat emptor, the government of the United Kingdom is by neglect complicit in this scam: despite repeated diplomatic requests by the Republic of Cyprus, UK authorities made no effort to stem the tide of advertising and marketing of illegal properties offers targeting the UK public the way they otherwise would have if they had known that a particular investment scheme was fraudulent. Property investors have been warned.
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