British home buyer loses case in court ruling

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Cyprus Property News
Cyprus Property News

A judge has ruled that British home buyer Conor O’Dwyer’s private criminal prosecution against Karayiannas and Michelle McDonald has not been proven and has ordered Mr O’Dwyer to pay their costs.

CONOR O’Dwyer has failed in his attempt to get justice through the Cyprus judicial system following a court ruling earlier today in his private criminal case against property developer Christoforos Karayiannas & Son Ltd and Michelle McDonald, the person now living in his home.

In 2008 the Attorney General wrote a three-line letter to O’Dwyer telling him that his developers had not committed any crime by effectively re-selling a house legally registered in his name. However, when O’Dwyer brought a private criminal prosecution against the accused, the judge agreed that Karayiannas and McDonald had a case to answer.

The judge accepted evidence from an official from the Department of Lands and Surveys who confirmed that O’Dwyer’s contract had been duly signed and lodged with the Land Registry for ‘Specific Performance’.

The court heard evidence that O’Dwyer made the stage payments as required by his contract until Karayiannas refused to accept a payment. It also heard how O’Dwyer made numerous attempts contact the Karayiannas to discover what was happening and how all of these were ignored.

The judge also accepted that the developer had resold the property to someone else without seeking Mr O’Dwyer’s consent to cancel the contract or applying for a court order to withdraw the contract from the Land Registry.

But despite the evidence submitted the judge did not consider it sufficient to prove that a fraud had been committed ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ and ordered Mr. O’Dwyer to pay the defendants’ costs.

According to the Island’s ‘Specific Performance Law’, the deposit of a contact of sale at a Land Registry prevents a property from being sold for a second time. It can only be withdrawn from the Land Registry with the agreement of the vendor and the purchaser – or by a court order.

Mr O’Dwyer’s lawyer, Yiannos G. Georgiades, said that: “We will appeal the decision; we believe it goes against the laws of Cyprus. The decision could give the wrong messages to overseas investors that their rights are not protected when they buy property in Cyprus even if they have filed their contracts with the Land Registry.”

“Investors must be assured that the laws of Cyprus safeguard their rights if they file the contract with the Land Registry and that the developer cannot resell their property without their consent.”

Referring to case law Andricos Nicou and others v George Georgiou 1 CLR(1999) p 940, Mr Georgiades added “The judgements of the Supreme Court are binding on the lower courts since in Cyprus we follow the English common law system.”

By: Nigel Howarth
Published: Thursday 20th January 2011
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