Although every person has rights, not all rights are absolute. This means that various rights which derive from within the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus and the European Convention of Human Rights, are prone to limitations.
The Constitution acknowledges a person’s right to own, possess and enjoy his property, but it further expands on stating that this right is susceptible to deprivations/restrictions or limitations if these are absolutely necessary in the public interest, including public safety, public health and public morals. Within this context, the requisition is considered as a limitation and the compulsory acquisition of property as a deprivation.
This article will examine the meaning of the terms of requisition and compulsory acquisition, and explain the measures of response available to the affected owner.
Firstly, requisition means the temporary shift, for a limited period of time, of the property’s possession from the registered owner to the Republic, regardless of the registered owner’s consent. In Adrian Holdings Ltd v. The Republic (1999) 3 A.A.Δ 828, the Supreme Court clarified that a requisition should aim to satisfy an urgent and temporary need of society, and the duration of the requisition period cannot be permanent and continuous. Additionally, in Vassiadou v. The Republic (1973) 3 C.L.R. 241, the Supreme Court held that the state (as the requisitioning authority) cannot requisition a property for more than three years by continuous requisition orders, on the basis that this could amount to an unlimited requisition period contrary to the Constitution and it would result in deprivation of the property from the registered owner. Such deprivation would, in turn, cause significant suffering to the right to property, something allowed only in the case of compulsory acquisition, not requisition.
On the contrary, compulsory acquisition means compulsory permanent transfer of ownership of an immovable property from the registered owner to the Republic, without obtaining the registered owner’s consent.
In spite of the above limitations, the Constitution and the corresponding laws help registered owners by setting strict and clear rules.
Initially, if you are the registered owner of the property being requisitioned or acquisitioned, you are entitled to compensation, which will be granted by the Republic.
It should be noted that the Republic functioning as an acquisitioning authority, will propose an offer of compensation, with which you are allowed to disagree. If no agreement is reached, you can ask the Court to decide a fair and just amount for your compensation.
Compensation for the requisition of your property (Article 8 of the Requisition of Property Law 21/1962) covers specific aspects such as:
- The rental value of the property under requisition;
- Compensation for any disturbance caused (e.g. loss of business);
- Compensation for any damage done to the immovable property during the time it was requisitioned, excluding natural damage (damage done without the interference of the acquiring authority).
Furthermore, in the case of a compulsory acquisition, there are further measures that are available to you as a registered owner, such as:
- Applying to the Court for the return of ownership of the acquisitioned property to you. This is available if the acquiring authority fails to use your property for the reason it was acquisitioned, within 3 years;
- If the acquiring authority misses the deadlines that are set within the provisions of the corresponding law, in relation to the publication of an acquisition order in the Official Gazette of the Republic, or fails to send a written offer for compensation to the parties involved, then the acquisition order of your property is no longer valid and it shall remain unexecuted.
In conclusion, if the state tries to requisition or compulsorily acquires your property, you are best placed to seek professional advice as to how best to deal with your case.
The content of this article is valid as at the date of its first publication. It is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you seek professional advice on your specific matter before acting on any information provided. For further information or advice, please contact Vasilios Paraskevov, Legal Consultant at Vasilios.Paraskevov@kyprianou.com