Brit wins property dispute but must pay for defamation

A BRITISH homebuyer has said he will appeal a court order to pay compensation for an online campaign against a property developer whom the court has found guilty of the unlawful termination of a 2005 contract.

After years of battling his case, and finally having the court acknowledge that his developers had unlawfully terminated his contract, the Famagusta District Court has asked Conor O’Dwyer to pay compensation to Paralimni-based Karayannas Developers over his online campaign.

Although the court awarded O’Dwyer €141,000 in compensation, which comes to around €200,000 with interest, he has been asked to compensate the developers to the tune of some €60,000 – over €85,000 with interest – for defamation on the website, set up in March 2006 against the backdrop of a growing dispute with the developers.

“I’m being penalised because I dared express my opinion about how I was treated by the developers,” O’Dwyer said.

The website documented O’Dwyer’s interaction with the developers by scanning documents, recording conversations and posting photographs of the disputed villa.

O’Dwyer’s lawyer, Yiannos Georgiades, has been instructed to appeal the court’s decision.

In the case of defamation, Georgiades said that European law precedents weighed heavily towards the protection of freedom of speech and people’s right to express their opinion, even against major corporations.

Georgiades said they will also appeal the court’s decision not to award damages for expenses (travelling to and from the UK), loss of rent (by selling a home in the UK to settle in Cyprus) and damages for distress caused by the developers.

The O’Dwyer family sold their house to move to Cyprus with their two small children, buying property on land belonging to the developers in 2005.

They felt their agreement with the developer was breached but negotiations to find a mutually agreed solution failed.

O’Dwyer had already paid over €100,000 in instalments as per his contract and claims the house was resold without his knowledge in May 2007. His contract had been unlawfully terminated and his money never returned.

Karayannas and his son have already been found guilty twice of assault on O’Dwyer in 2006 and 2008. Concerning the second assault, the state has appealed the court’s decision to give a 12-month suspended sentence for actual bodily harm on the grounds the offence should have related to the more serious grievous bodily harm.

O’Dwyer is also waiting on a civil suit against the developers in relation to the second assault that left him six days in hospital.

Also pending is a Supreme Court appeal to a court’s decision to clear Karayannas of any wrongdoing, in relation to a private criminal prosecution.

By: Poly Pantelides Published: Saturday 15th September 2012

To see comments from British expats read this article in the Cyprus Property News
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