In a case that underlines the territorial integrity of the island of Cyprus, the British Court of Appeal has upheld a decision by a Cypriot court relating to the high profile case of Apostolides v Orams, regarding claims affecting Greek Cypriot-owned property in the northern areas of the Republic of Cyprus which have been occupied by the Turkish military ever since the Turkish army’s invasion in 1974.

The ruling recognises the authority of the Cypriot courts to decide on cases concerning immovable property in the areas under Turkish military occupation and reaffirms the obligation of the British authorities to enforce such decisions in the United Kingdom.

The Court of Appeal’s decision, together with the ruling of the European Court of Justice on 27th April 2009 on the same case, mean that the human rights of displaced Cypriot people to their properties in northern occupied Cyprus are safeguarded and can now be enforced throughout the European Union.

Peter Droussiotis, the President of the National Federation of Cypriots, yesterday welcomed the ruling.

“We have all known for a long time on which side justice should be in this case. This has now been confirmed by every court which has considered this matter at a national as well as a European level. The Cypriot courts found in Mr Apostolides’s favour and this was subsequently affirmed by the European Court of Justice. The British Court of Appeal has now drawn a line under this matter by handing down a clear judgment upholding Mr Aposolides’s legal rights.

“For thousands of families who have lost their properties, the failure of the Orams’ appeal provides hope.  This judgment, which is final and not subject to appeal, constitutes a clear warning to all potential trespassers of illegally occupied land on the island of Cyprus. It also means that other similar cases can now go through the Cyprus courts and will be enforceable in the UK and in other member states of the European Union. Let us hope that this decision contributes to current political efforts to reach a just and lasting settlement on the island.”

The Cyprus Law Office announced the ruling represents more effective protection of the property rights of refugees, as their civil rights are fully safeguarded against those who exploit them.

The British Court judgment was issued in the case of Apostolides v Orams, in which Greek Cypriot Meletis Apostolides took Charles and Linda Orams to court, claiming his property rights over his property in the occupied areas where the Orams had built, illegally, a holiday home.

The Cypriot court had ordered the Orams to pay compensation to Apostolides, demolish the holiday home they had built on his property in the Turkish occupied village of Lapithos, halt all intervention on the said property and deliver it to its legal owner. The British Court of Appeal has said that this ruling must be executed.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish military forces invaded the northern part of the island and thereafter occupied approximately 38% of its territory.