George Coucounis explains that the value assessed by the Land Registry Office and the transfer fees payable for the conveyance of an immovable property in Cyprus are the personal data of the purchaser and cannot be disclosed.
Personal data is whatever defines the nature and identity of a person and it is protected by the law. The great spectrum of personal data covers many aspects of life, such as health, religion, political beliefs, racial and national background, financial and social activities and so on. Personal data processing is every process applied on personal data by any person, either with or without the use of automated methods. It includes the collection, issuing, maintenance, transfer, spread or any other form of disposal, combination, deletion or destruction of personal data. The person responsible for the processing is the one who defines why and how this kind of processing is done. The record of personal data constitutes the total of the personal data to be processed which are based on certain criteria which aim in protecting the individual.
The processing of personal data is forbidden by the law, Law 138(I)/2001. It is only allowed when the person in question has given his explicit consent or when it is allowed by the law. The law can be applied when it comes to processing of personal data, either automated or not, which are included or will be included in records. Article 4 of the Law provides that, in order for the processing to be legal, the person responsible for the processing is obliged to ensure that the personal data are legitimately and legally processed, are collected for predefined, clear and legal purposes and they will not go under any other future processing which does not comply with the said purposes. Moreover, these data are relevant, expedient and no more than the ones needed for the processing purposes. They should also be explicit and updated when necessary. Moreover, they should be kept in such a form in order to define the identity of their subjects and only for the time period needed.
The provisions of the law ensure the information concerning the value of an immovable property sold, estimated by the Cyprus District Land Registry and the amount of transfer fees payable according to the Land Registry and Surveying Law (Fees and Rights), Cap 149, as amended. Specifically, when an immovable property is sold and is to be transferred, its price is assessed by the Director of the District Land Registry for the payment of transfer fees for the title deed. In such a case, it is possible for the price assessed by the Director to be higher than the one agreed between the vendor and the purchaser. The price so assessed and the transfer fees are personal data of the purchaser, they concern only him and the vendor is not entitled to get any information on them.
The officer of the District Land Registry is obliged to be very careful in order to inform only the purchaser of the estimated market value and the transfer fees of the property and not the vendor. The same applies for other transactions when the market value of a property must be estimated for the payment of the Land Registry fees. This information is strictly confidential and the Land Registry officer ought to provide it only to the person who is responsible of paying the relevant fees, or to his legal representative. The purpose of this is the protection of the personal data of the purchaser or of any other person obliged to pay Land Registry fees. Thus, the completion of the sale or of any other legal transaction made is ensured and the non-completion or the withdrawal from such a transaction is avoided, since the assessed market value of the property is not made known to anyone except the purchaser or the person responsible for the payment of the relevant fees.
If there is a violation of such an obligation, according to the law, concerning personal data processing, the Commissioner can impose the sanctions provided by the law and every other regulation regarding the protection of the individual. Some of these regulations are the warning, the exclusive deadline for removing the violation, the destruction of the records, a penalty of up to CY£5000 etc. Moreover, the law provides for offences and penalties when there is no compliance with its provisions.
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.