Cherie Blair, the Orams Case, and Cyprus Property


Cherie Blair, wife of the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has become involved in the controversial issue of British ownership of North Cyprus Property.

Linda and David Orams paid around £160,000 for a detached house in Lapta in 2003. A Citizen of the Greek Republic of Cyprus, Mr Meletis Apostolides, claims that he is the rightful owner of the land on which the villa is built.

When Cyprus was partitioned into North and South, then Greek Cypriots residing in the North fled to the South, and Turkish Cypriots residing in the South moved north. Property, land and possessions were abandoned by the fleeing refugees. Since 1974, both the Turkish Cypriot administration in the North and the Greek Cypriot administration in the South have devised policies as to how this property and land should be used. The North Cyprus administration has issued TRNC title deeds in relation to previously occupied and owned Greek land. The authorities in South Cyprus have been more circumspect on this matter.

In October 2005, the South Nicosia District Court registered the adverse judgment against the Orams with the British High Court in London. This was based on an EU agreement whereby convicted criminals in one EU state could not evade justice by fleeing to another EU country. As the Greek Republic of Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, they are able to resort to this arrangement between EU states. Mrs Orams appealed against the registration.

The case was heard in London at the end of July 2006. A director of Wellington Estates Ltd was in court to listen to the proceedings.

Ms Cherie Booth, also known as Blair, represented the Orams. Ms Booth reminded the court that when the republic of Cyprus joined the EU, it signed and accepted Article 1 Protocol 10, which states – We (the Greek Republic of Cyprus) have no effective control over the North – Considering Article 1 and the fact that the case is still at appeal stage, the UK and other EU states cannot interfere in the affairs of Northern Cyprus, she said. Referring to the difficulties Article 1 presented, she said, -If you don’t have effective control over the North how can you implement laws?

This is a powerful argument, as the Greek Cypriot administration, by its own admission, has no effective power to enforce a ruling made by a Greek court in Nicosia on a property in Lapta, which is some 25 miles away. Indeed, since the attempt to serve a writ on Mrs Orams the TRNC authorities have made it clear that any repeat of this exercise will lead to the arrest of those persons attempting to serve an unauthorised writ.

Viewed from this perspective, the Greek Cypriot effort to register a Greek Republic of Cyprus court judgment in London lacks logic and could be considered mischievous. If a Greek court cannot enforce a judgment on a property some 25 miles away, how can a UK court be expected to fare better?

However, there is a hidden agenda in this matter. The Greek complainant is aware that the Orams have a house in Brighton, in addition to the disputed property in Lapta. Should the complainant be successful in registering the Greek courts judgment in London, and should Mrs Orams fail to comply with the demolition order in a reasonable period of time, then the next stage of litigation will be an application for the UK court to seize Mrs Orams assets in the UK.

Mr Justice Jack has stated that he is unlikely to make a ruling on the case before September 2006.

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