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Friday, April 07, 2006

Date set for Orams decision

From The Cyprus Weekly:

Decision in Orams case on invasion anniversary

EXCLUSIVE

By Philippos Stylianou

ON THE anniversary of the Turkish invasion this summer, the London High Court will deliver its final judgment on the controversial Orams case, which is expected to have an enormous effect on the future of Greek Cypriot refugee properties in the occupied areas.

Lawyer Constantis Candounas, who has asked the High Court to enforce a decision by a Cypriot court ordering David and Linda Orams from Hove, Sussex, to return land property to his client Meletis Apostolides, said the trial had been set for July 18, 19 and 20.

The action, under an EU regime making possible the enforcement of court decisions of one member state in the courts of another, was filed on December 21, 2005 and, besides being the first of its kind in the UK, it became even more controversial when the Orams retained the legal services of Cherie Blair QC, wife of the British Prime Minister.

Candounas told The Cyprus Weekly that he attended a hearing at the High Court with the Orams’ solicitors on March 1, 2006, during which the Court gave instructions for Apostolides’ expert witnesses to submit their evidence by March 29.

The Orams were to reply within a week, which they did, and then the lawyers of both sides were given two weeks to meet together.

Not easy

Called by The Cyprus Weekly to say if the date coinciding with the 32nd invasion anniversary carried any special significance, Candounas said it was very fortunate that they could get such an early date.

He explained that it was not easy to find a time slot suiting the lawyers of the two sides and the High Court judges.

Cherie Blair tried to get a postponement until Linda Orams’ appeal to the Cyprus Supreme Court against the ruling of the court of first instance was heard, but the High Court rejected this, as it could have taken as long as a year to 18 months.

Leading the UK legal team for Meletis Apostolides against Cherie Blair and other lawyers from the Matrix Chambers, will be Thomas Beazley QC, of Blackstone Chambers, with Simon Congdon of Holmans Fenwick Willan Solicitors and another QC from Brickstone Chambers.

Unaware

Linda and David Orams claimed they had bought Apostolides’ property in Lapithos, near Kyrenia, in good faith from a Turkish Cypriot without being aware of the legal and political implications and build a luxury villa there.

The Nicosia District Court ordered them to demolish the villa and return the property to its rightful owner. In the face of the Orams’ refusal to comply with the decision and being unable to enforce it because of the Turkish occupation in northern Cyprus, Apostolides can ask to have the judgment executed against the Orams’ UK property.

The British High Court will not review the merits of the case but will decide on matters of procedure and public policy.

The development has slowed down the arbitrary sale of Greek Cypriot refugee properties in the occupied territories, mainly to UK nationals, which had reached alarming proportions.

It would be no exaggeration to say that the High Court decision will seal the fate of the Greek Cypriot refugee properties either way.

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