The Immovable Property Commission is vindicated

ECHR Court Room

The ECHR applicants were 17 Cypriot nationals of Greek-Cypriot origin, living in Nicosia, Limassol, Lakatamia and Larnaca. They were complaining that they’d been deprived of the use of their property and/or access to their homes in northern Cyprus as a result of the Turkish military operations in July and August 1974 and the division of Cyprus.

Since December 2005 property owners could bring a claim before the Immovable Property Commission (“IPC”), for a fee of 100 TL per application provided they submitted title deeds or proof of ownership. As of November 2009, 433 cases had been brought before the IPC  and of these  85 had been concluded, the vast majority by a friendly settlement. Over 70 applicants took a total of €47m compensation  and 361,493 square metres of property had been “restituted”.

The Court reiterated that “an appropriate domestic body, with access to the relevant information, was clearly the more appropriate forum for deciding on complex matters of property ownership and valuation and assessing financial compensation,” In other words the IPC. The Court also stated that “it would risk being arbitrary and injudicious for the Court to impose an obligation to effect restitution in all cases – which would result in the forcible eviction and rehousing of many men, women and children.”

The Court also stressed that there was not an obligation to use the IPC and that claimants could, if they wished, wait for a political solution instead.

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