Boundary disputes

The Director of the Land Registry in Cyprus is always obliged by the law to issue a decision for the determination of a boundary dispute, even if it is resolved amicably by the owners, as George Coucounis explains.

Whenever there is a dispute over the common boundaries of adjacent Cyprus properties and the owners do not manage to settle the dispute themselves, they ought to apply to the Director of the Land Registry of the district where the property is situated in order for him to determine such dispute.

According to the law, this procedure is obligatory and it should be followed since it is the Director who determines disputes of this nature in the first instance.

The Director resolves the dispute in accordance with article 58 of the Immovable Property & Tenure Law, Cap. 224, in one of the following ways: (1) by a decision according to article 58 (3) which provides the following: “On deciding a boundary dispute the Director shall give notice of his decision to the parties to the dispute and shall place such land marks as he may think fit to show the line of the boundary as by him decided and make such measurements and notes as may be required for identifying the position of the land marks”, (2) with an amicable settlement without removing the registered common boundary, (3) with an amicable settlement where the registered common boundary is removed and the boundary line is readjusted.

In the first case, if the decision of the Director does not satisfy any of the affected owners, the one not satisfied has the right to file an appeal before the Court within 30 days from the day the decision is notified to him. The Court can issue an order as may think proper and just, but no court has jurisdiction to decide on any matter within the competence of the Director through a legal action or another procedure, except through an appeal against the decision of the Director.

In the second and third cases, the Director has again an obligation under the law to issue a decision even if the boundary dispute is resolved amicably by the parties themselves. In such an event, the decision of the Director is final and no appeal can be filed against it.

The question which may arise is whether an owner, after resolving a boundary dispute amicably, is entitled to back out or change his mind.

The answer is negative since the Director is under an obligation by virtue of the law to issue a decision determining the dispute as it has been agreed between the parties and to notify them accordingly. Practically, the procedure followed by the Land Registry is to request the parties to sign a declaration for the determination of the dispute before the officer who carries out local inspections and points out to the owners the registered common boundary of their adjacent properties. Furthermore, the owners are also requested to sign the topographical plan which shows either the common boundary of their properties or the one resulting from their agreement.

Another question which may arise is the one where the owners have settled their dispute in another way that is through an amicable settlement between them without the involvement of the Land Registry and in the process one of them backs out. The answer is that any procedure that has begun before the Land Registry and it has been determined by the parties themselves is terminated and dismissed. The only remaining solution is for the affected owner to submit an application at the Land Registry in order to settle the boundary dispute.

The Director is always under a mandatory duty to resolve a dispute as to the boundaries by determining them in the best possible manner based on the available information and the Land Registry records.

The law does not provide for any cases where the Director is not able to give a definite answer regarding a boundary dispute. Consequently, he has an obligation to issue a decision on the dispute and nothing can release him from his responsibilities.

The Director has no authority to leave a dispute set before him unresolved, owing to the parties behaviour. He is under a mandatory duty to exercise his authorities given to him by the law, according to the provisions of article 58 of Cap. 224, that is for him to always determine a dispute as to the boundaries.

About the author

George Coucounis

George Coucounis is an experienced lawyer practicing in Larnaca, Cyprus. Educated at University College (London) and Thessaloniki University (Greece), George is fluent in English and has been practicing law in Cyprus since 1982.

Recent articles