THE Immovable Property Law provides that any person who has a complaint against an order, notice or decision of the Director of the Land and Survey Department, may within 30 days file an appeal before the court to issue an order as it sees fit. The time limit may be extended by an order of the court if it is satisfied that the complainant was absent from the Republic or was prevented due to illness or other reasonable cause to do so.
The appeal is filed before the District Court where the immovable property is situated. The application/appeal is supported by one or more affidavits referring to the facts of the case and must include a copy of the notice or decision of the Director which is appealed. All interested parties must be made part of the proceedings, without the Director being a litigant, unless otherwise provided in the law; however, the appeal must always be served to him. The court, after a written or oral application, may allow, for good reason, the filing of supplementary affidavits and the hearing of the appeal is conducted based on the facts stated therein.
Furthermore, the regulations provide for the procedure to be followed in case the affected person does not agree with the judgment of the court and wishes to file an appeal. The relevant time limit for filing the appeal is 14 days. This issue was examined by Supreme Court in its judgment issued on 20.9.2017, where according to the facts of the case, the appeal was filed 41 days after the issue of the judgment of the court and the question raised was whether the appeal should have been dismissed as out-of-time.
The relevant regulation provides that where an appeal lies under the Law from any order of the District Court such appeal shall be brought within 14 days after the making of such order. The appellant alleged that it was not an important element that the application/appeal had been brought before the District Court in accordance with the Immovable Property Regulations, but for the issue of the time limit to be decided, the court had to consider whether the judgment appealed was an order or a decision; in the latter case, the time limit would have been 42 days.
The court of first instance dismissed the applications/appeals for the issue of an order to annul the decisions of the Director and the appellant alleged that it was a decision and not an order, thus the time limit was 42 days.
The Supreme Court disagreed with the interpretation of the Regulation given by the appellant, since it was not only fundamentally contrary to her position seeking extension of time for filing the appeal, but it was also wrong. It was held that it would be unreasonable to consider that if the court of first instance decides to dismiss or accept a procedure, the time limit for filing an appeal would be different depending on the outcome. Referring to case law, the Supreme Court stated that what matters is not the nature of the order issued, but the application or the procedure in the context of which the order was issued, in the particular case, the procedure that is provided in the Regulations of 1956.
It stated that it is a special procedure in which there is a provision regulating the time limit for filing an appeal. For the issue under consideration, as case law provides, an order is final when it is issued in an application or a procedure which will result to the final resolution of the dispute, no matter which of the litigants will win. In the case in hand, the Supreme Court stated that the Regulations expressly define the time limit for filing an appeal and therefore, it dismissed the appeal as out-of-time.