British expats and second homers have won a landmark victory in Turkish courts to reclaim millions of pounds paid to a holiday resort developer who went bust.
Around 55 property investors joined together to sue the landowner and developer of the Golden Beach Resort, in Didim, Turkey.
The property buyers put £3 million into the development.
However, the builder had financial problems, so the investors started a legal claim fearing they could lose their money and homes as they did not hold the title deeds.
The case has taken five years to pass through the courts in Turkey, but the Supreme Court has ordered the investors should be repaid their money plus five year’s interest.
The ruling still has to be rubber stamped by the High Court, but lawyers are ready to send in bailiffs to seize the resort and sell off the land to raise the cash to repay the investors – alternatively, the landowner and developer can hand over the cash.
The London lawyer leading the case, Burcu Orhan-Holmgren, said: “To our knowledge this is the first time the Turkish courts have decided a case in favour of foreign claimants.
“Everyone is pleased and relieved that they have protected their money.”
She explained most of the apartments at the complex were bought in before 2010, but few owners could access their properties as they had no title deeds and were refused entry to the resort.
“The builders did not finish construction, so no one could move in. Many buyers had moved furniture and belongings into their apartments,” said Orhan-Holmgren.
“During the case, many have complained to police that someone has broken into their property and removed their possessions, but because they could not prove ownership of the apartments without the deeds, their complaints were ignored.
Not only was the case a landmark for foreign litigants, but was also the first time a landowner and developer were held jointly responsible for a loss due to the nature of their contract.
Under Turkish law, say experts, the agreement between the landowner and developer made building the resort a joint venture, so both parties were equally liable for compensating the investors.
A spokesman for the landowner and builder said they were happy to hand over the title deeds but not the cash – and were considering appealing the case.