Property Complaints Office – officially dead?

Currently the PCO website is non-operational and for all intents and purposes so is this entire organisation, set up to help sort out property problems in north Cyprus at no cost to the victims. It was set up as a result of pressure from the Homebuyers’ Pressure Group (HBPG) in 2006, recognising that property victims have no easy way to seek justice against a construction industry, which seemed beyond the law. In the end very few cases were settled and despite a promising start, the construction industry soon discovered that they could ignore it with impunity.

Property victims were soon back to having to finance their own legal cases against the construction industry, often having lost all their money on a property they could not live in. To add insult to injury, in many cases, the advocates they had paid to protect them were part of the problem and taking them to court was impossible. The victims then discovered that having lost all their money, the government would not allow them to live here permanently because they now had insufficient funds to do so. This often meant returning to the UK penniless and renting accommodation and perhaps living on benefits because the pension which was meant to cover living expenses now had to also pay rent.

To compound this problem, those who had taken out court cases are now being told to spend dwindling savings to return to court in north Cyprus. This would seem justified if, when they arrived, the defendants did not regularly make a last minute excuse for not attending. This will mean that eventually the victims will not be able to afford the costs of attending court and in doing so, it has been alleged, their case would be thrown out of court.

The new government brings an opportunity for a fresh approach to this problem. It is not clear what the current government intends to do about the abuses allowed by the previous government but they seem to be promising to confront injustices ignored by them. One issue that they were supposed to be dealing with through legislation, was the seeming impunity of the legal profession. According to Feyzi Hansel, the General Secretary of the Bar Council, quoted in NCFP, hopefully before the New Year, Advocates Laws were expected to be passed. Once passed they will allow the disciplinary board to gain “new practical and operative functions which will result in effective disciplinary judgements and faster disciplinary procedures.”

No news about these laws so far, lets hope these promises are not as empty as those given by the PCO.

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