Foreigners who have bought land or property in the disputed territory of northern Cyprus could find them being stripped of the assets following a new EU ruling.

The European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that courts throughout the European Union should enforce Greek Cypriot legal verdicts. The judgement was bought about by the efforts of a Greek Cypriot whose family was forced to abandon their land when Cyprus was partioned in 1974. A British couple have since built a holiday home on the plot.

European community law is suspended in the northern part of the island, whose Turkish Cypriot authorities are recognised only by Ankara. However, the ruling said that this would not ‘prevent the courts of another member state from declaring such judgements enforceable.’

There are an estimated 5,000 British expats living in northern Cyprus and the judgement could lead to a wave of lawsuits against those occupying disputed property.

* Look out for the next issue of Country Life International on May 20 to read about high end property around Paphos.

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