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CYPRUS: Rare decision to restitute Turkish-occupied property owned by UK Cypriot

18 April, 2019

In a rare decision, the immovable property commission (IPC) in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus ordered the restitution of two out of five properties belonging to Andriani Joannou, a British and Cypriot national.


Despite agreeing to give some of the property back to the owner, it did not provide a date for when this would be done.

Meanwhile, the IPC offered compensation for the remaining properties, corresponding to only 14% of their estimated market value. According to IPC statistics, there have been only seven decisions since 2006, providing for restitution and compensation.

Joannou’s case attracted publicity after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in her favour in 2017, noting that proceedings before the IPC were ineffective in her case.

“It is very important that the commission ordered the restitution of two properties. It would have been better, however, to proceed with the restitution of all properties,” Joannou’s lawyer, Achilleas Demetriades told CNA.

He said, “the damages ordered are not those we expected since they are lower than those we asked for and we are considering our next moves.”

Joannou applied to the IPC for five properties located in the Turkish-held village of Koma tou Gialou, in the Karpas peninsula, which she received as a gift from her aunt in 1997. Due to protracted IPC procedures, she applied to the ECHR, with the Court ruling in her favour in December 2017. Her case was reviewed again by the IPC last October.

In a letter to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Demetriades says that the IPC decision was delivered on March 18, 2019, with “an unexplained delay of more than two months.”

He informed the Committee of Ministers that the IPC ordered the restitution for two out of her five properties, without providing a specific date or deadline for the restitution to take effect. He adds, moreover, that no loss of use was awarded for the two properties.

As for the three remaining properties, Demetriades says that the applicant’s valuation report calculated their market value at a total of £1,020,865.58, however, the IPC awarded a total amount of £146,678.83. There is a difference of £874,186.75, the lawyer said, adding that “the IPC’s award for market value represents only 14% of the market value as calculated in the Applicant’s valuation report.”

With respect to the loss of use, including interest, for the three properties between 1997 and 2018, the applicant’s valuation report calculated the amount to £694,741.54. Her lawyer says that the IPC awarded only £69,167.61 for the period between 1974 and 2018.

 

“The IPC’s award for loss of use is only 10% of the loss of use value as calculated in the Applicant’s valuation report and it is also 23 years less,” Demetriades notes.

 

The lawyer said there was no compensation for moral damages, legal costs or default interest in the IPC decision and requests the case to be considered at the forthcoming meeting of the Committee of Ministers, in June.