On 1 July 2019 the Supreme Court issued its decision in Kourtellaris v Cyprus (Revisional Appeal 99/2013) after an appeal against the first-instance court's rejection of an administrative recourse.
The applicant was the administrator of the estate of a deceased person, Mr Kourtellaris, who had been the owner of properties that were compulsorily acquired in 1977 in order to be separated into plots to house refugees. The compulsory acquisition notice dated 10 October 1976 stated that the acquisition was required to:
- construct roads, sewers, electricity lines and a water network and separate the properties into plots to build houses for refugees; and
- build shops, commercial buildings, schools and other institutions to accommodate the refugees' needs.
On 4 March 2011 the applicant requested in writing that the competent authority return his land, but his request was rejected by a letter dated 7 April 2011. As a result, the applicant filed an administrative recourse. The first-instance court rejected the recourse and the applicant filed Revisional Appeal 99/2013. The grounds for appeal were that:
- the state had to return the section of the applicant's land which had remained unexploited, as the acquisition's purpose had been completed; and
- the registration of the land in question as a green space had no legal basis.
The appeal court rejected the grounds of appeal. The court stated that the question was whether the completion of the compulsory purchase order's purposes were still feasible. The use of the property as a green space had been included in the acquisition's purposes in 1976 and since then had been the subject of discussions between the planning authority and the land registry.
Further, the planning authority sent a letter to the Ministry of the Interior on 12 February 1985 noting that part of the land had been used to create an open green space and in 2000 this space had been registered as such. These factors showed that the acquisition's purposes had included the creation of a green space and this purpose had never been abandoned or become impossible.
The court continued, stating that completing the acquisition's purposes was within the discretion of the competent authority, given how broad they were. The fact that the notice of acquisition did not state expressly that a green space would be created did not prevent this use of the land considering the needs of a community. The court added that as the applicant had taken no measures against the initial acquisition, he could not call it into question after 35 years by relying on the broadness of the stated purposes.
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