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SWISS FRANC LOANS: THE DAY AFTER THE CURRENCY RATE RELEASE

Recently, the decision of the Central Bank of Switzerland to release the currency rate between euro and Swiss franc, fixed since October 2011 at 1,20CHF shocked 65.000 Greek borrowers, who found themselves in the desperate position to be obliged to pay off a, practically, never ending loan!

Following this decision and the stir it created, the banks now invite the borrowers in debt settlements, suggesting either the prolongation of their loans or the maintenance of the currency rate of 1,20CHF.

What needs to be made clear is that this action, on behalf of the banks, leads to acknowledgment of debt by the borrowers! Given that this fact, apart from immoral, can also be legally challenged as illegal, we invite all borrowers to be extremely careful, when invited by their banks, and not to hesitate to legally claim their rights as consumers, as hundreds of them have already done, either by themselves or through consumers' associations around Greece. The relevant lawsuits are expected to be examined during the next few months and the outcome is awaited with suspense, as the luck of loans for thousands of our co-citizens depends on it.   

“NORMAN ATLANTIC” TRAGEDY: PASSENGERS’ RIGHTS

The whole world watches the tragedy of the vessel “Norman Atlantic”, which still contin in Adriatic sea for the last five days. 

The vessel owned by the Italian company Grimaldi and rent by the Cretan ANEK Lines, departed from the port of Patras on Saturday evening the 27th of December 2014 with final destination the Italian port of Ancona via Igoumenitsa – another Greek port. 

At 4 am of the 28th of December, a fire burst in one of the garages of the ship, while the latter was sailing 32 nautical miles Northwest of Othoni (small Greek island NW of Corfu). The captain, according to published information, initially estimated that the crew was capable of extinguishing the fire. Thus for, he did not immediately send a Mayday signal, resulting in loss of precious time. It was only before 9 am did the rescue operations begin. Greek and Italian fireboats, as well as nearby sailing ships, approached the spot, which was then in the Italian sea, in order to provide their help. Nevertheless, the extremely bad weather conditions in the area, where the wind was reaching 9 Beauforts and the constant heavy rainfall, turned the rescue operation dramatically difficult. The first passengers succeeded in boarding a rescue boat and were collected by the mearby sailing boats after several hours, whereas, according to survivors, panic prevailed.      

The unclear and confusing information concerning the number and identity of the passengers, survivors, drown and missing persons are indicative of the panic and the poor organization of the salvage operation.

Today, five days after the tragedy, the Italian and Greek authorities continue blaming each other for “false passengers’ list”, “erroneous survivors’ records”, “misinformation on the identity of the survivors”. At the same time, survivors protest the lack of information and the bad organization of rescue operations by the Authorities. Meanwhile, the official records speak about eleven drown persons, two of which are Greek, whereas more bodies are to be identified, since relatives of missing persons from Greece are arriving  in Italy today, 2nd of January noon. 

The number of passengers, according to information published so far, varies from 428 to 499 persons. The Greek authorities received a list of 477 survivors by the Italian coast guard. Nine bodies have been recovered. Two, although spotted, were unable to be recovered due to bad weather conditions, whereas the estimated number of missing persons is ten.

After several efforts to tug the ship, the last effort begun yesterday evening, trying to tug Norman Atlantic from the Albanian coast to the Italian port of Brindizi. The ferry towed in a tugboat is now sailing with 3 nautical miles towards the port.   

The judicial  prosecutor of Bari ordered the confiscation and further research of the vessel, in order not only to clarify the causes of the fire but also to examine if there are any other bodies in the garage and lower decks as, according to survivors, many drivers were to spend the nights in their trucks, whereas it is further speculated that illegal migrants were on board. 

Recently published information claim that, although the vessel was only five years old, following inspection of the port authorities of Patras on the 19th of December, several omissions were observed, concerning her waterproofing system, her rescue means as well as the emergency lights. The owner company was given a 15 days notice to fix these problems. 

The passengers, apart form the loss of their vehicles and their personal belongings and the relatives of the tragic victims have, in any case, a whole range of rights and can revert to justice against all liable parties for damages, not only physical but also moral. 

An in depth evaluation is necessary, in order to clearly determine the passenger's  rights and to evaluate the claims published so far in the Press concerning omissions on the boat, erroneous handling of the parties participating in the rescue operations, according to provisions of special laws and international conventions on rights of passengers carried by sea. 

Our office as member of the GLOBAL JUSTICE NETWORK one of the most experienced and prominent organizations in the world specializing  in Maritime accidents  (www.globaljusticenetwork.com) is already in contact with survivors of the ΝΟRMAN ATLANTIC plans and provides them legal support and advice on defending and protecting their legal rights in this complex situation where claims for losses and moral damages arise.

In this effort the Global Justice Network with its expertise in the handling of maritime accidents and the appropriate representation of victims, among which -indicatively - are:  the complex maritime accident AL SALAM BOCCACIO in the Red Sea, the EXPRESS SAMINA sinking in the Aegean, the sinking of the cruise-ship SEA DIAMOND, the sinking of the cruise-ship COSTA CONCORDIA, the major maritime tragedy of the DONA PAZ, also by fire, the multi-deaths tragedy onboard the AEGEAN WIND, also by fire, the collision between mv BALTIC ACE and mv CORVUS J. off Rotterdam, the collision of mv ATLANTIC COMET with a fishing vessel, the collision of mv KARAM I with mv ALEXANDER DP in Bulgaria, the sinking of mv KELPHI in the Mediterranean, the collision of ferry SAMAINA with the military submarine KOSTAKOS in Greece, the sinking of the fishing trawler LYBERIOS in Greece.

The Global Justice Network as the ideal international platform of size to offer proper and full support to the victims of this tragedy remains at the disposal  of those in need who claim losses both in human lives and in material  damages as well as moral damages from the Norman Atlantic tragedy for a free initial consultation and advise. Please use our contact form and one of the Global Justice Network specialists will get in touch with you without any delay. The Global Justice Network has specialized attorneys who are actively looking into this matter from Greece, Italy, Albania, Switzerland,France Turkey,Canada,U.K. Germany Austria and the Netherlands so as to secure the most appropriate representation in this complex case.

THE "NORMAN ATLANTIC" MARITIME TRAGEDY

There are still many unanswered questions regarding the sea worthiness of the vessel “Norman Atlantic", the way her maritime tragedy was handled in every level planning, operating and rescuing. One thing is certain; this has resulted to great losses for those who are perished and their families but also for the survivors both materially and psychologically.  

Prompted by the troubling developments of this terrible accident, we offer our assistance and free legal consultation to those affected -individually or their families. We are member of the Global Justice Network that specializes in maritime accidents and has built a huge experience worldwide in supporting victims in similar cases such as the Al - Salam Boccaccio (2006) counting more than 1,000 victims, the Costa Concordia, the Express Samina etc.

At this stage, however, we advise all victims and families of victims involved, to maintain their calm and not to rush into any settlement attempt before they can consult with their attorneys who can carefully evaluate the case and guide them to most appropriate actions.

You can communicate with us by email using our contact form without any other obligation on your part.    

OUR SUCCESSFUL PARTICIPATION AT THE GJF & THE GJN CONGRESSES IN NEW YORK

OUR SUCCESSFUL PARTICIPATION AT THE GJF & THE GJN CONGRESSES  IN NEW YORK

With a large number of participants was successfully completed last month the GLOBAL JUSICE FORUM at the COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL in New York. Our offices have been participating from the Forum’s  early stages in London and in Paris and this year were represented in New York by two attorneys. The Global Justice Forum with the Richman Center holds a seat at this highly ranked American University and had as its theme this year the income inequality and its legal consequences. This year’s legal event allocated credit points to N.Y. students and towards continuous education  while it enabled a great gathering of selected international Attorneys, Judges and University Professors from Asia, Africa, Europe  and the Americas.

Also in October 2014 our American partners from the LIEFF CABRASER HEIMANN & BERNSTEIN law firm (ranked for 2014 as America’s No 1 law firm in its category of plaintiff lawyers) hosted in their New York premises the coordination meeting of the GLOBAL JUSTICE NETWORK where our offices are a founding member and partner. Mr.Kokkinos was a speaker at this meeting that set forth the cooperation headlines and its ongoing structure. This network expands in dozens of countries all over the world and represents a major innovation on plaintiff attorneys practice. Its forthcoming General Assembly will be held in Amsterdam, Holland on April 2015.

Greek State bonds haircut: Case brought in front of the European Human Rights Court

Last week our law firm in collaboration with Prof. Andrea Saccucci  from Rome and the Genovese legal firm of Massimiliano Massara has filed lawsuits in front of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in the case of the Greek bonds haircut for alleged violation of the right of property (art. 1 of the First protocol). We represent a large number of private as well as institutional international clients who suffered substantial damage from this unilateral action of the Greek State. We see the “haircut” as a unilateral abusive and unconventional act.

The legal community is expecting the Court's position and reaction with great interest as this is a rather  unique case were a sovereign state fails to fulfill his obligations. An extensive international legal research  has been conducted for that matter and the outcome will be scientifically as well as politically very interesting. initial reactions of the Court are being anticipated within the following few months...

IMPORTANT RULING OF AUSTRIAN COURTS ON GREEK BONDS

On the 20.05.2014, the Supreme Court of Austria has partially upheld an action concerning the forced conversion of Greek bonds.

The claimants, who had acquired Greek bonds through an Austrian depository bank amounting to 17.000 EUR, required fulfillment of the terms and conditions of the agreement or damages in case of non-fulfillment from the Greek State. Additionally, they claimed damages due to the encroachment on their property right. The latter claim was rejected by the Supreme Court because, according to the court, the Greek State was exercising sovereign authority while creating the act of conversion and could therefore invoke the objection of State immunity, leading to lack of domestic jurisdiction.

As an emitter of bonds, however, the state was acting as a private entity; the claim of the plaintiff was therefore based on a contractual basis, making an immunity objection inadmissible. The complaint has now been sent back to the Austrian regional court which has to forward it to the Greek State before beginning the trial. The respondent is then given the chance to decide whether he wants to engage in the action in front of the Austrian courts.

GREEK BONDS HAIRCUT. Final filing by October 2014

As the Greek supreme Court has rendered its ruling last month, (negative as expected) the six month delay is now up and running for the much anticipated filing in front of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg  which for many is their last hope to recover what has been unilaterally haircut  by the Greek State from their Greek State bonds they bought before the crisis. Those people and also several institutional investors who never consented into any kind of haircut or rescheduling of repayment dates are now looking forward in what is considered as the final solution to a lengthy and exhausting legal battle against a sovereign State which failed to honor its committments. Our office in conjunction with one of the best experts in the world Italian professor Andrea Saccucci  is heavily preparing for the filing of many clients priate individuals and instututional alike. Mr. Kokkinos was himself in Strasbourg in early June (5th and 6th of June 2014)  for examining procedural issues of the petitions before the ECHR by the International Association of Lawyers.

 

 

Extended legal action on behalf of US and UK institutional holders of Greek sovereign debt bonds

Extended legal actions in the U.S. for Greek bondholders

ELC partner C. Kokkinos and the Italian Professor of International Law at the University of Naples Mr. A. Saccucci have visited  the New York offices of the high ranked U.S. Law firm Lieff Cabraiser Heimann & Bernstein. This visit was in view of organizing an extended legal action in front of the European Court of Human Rights in Starsbourg, France for the 2012 haircut of the Greek sovereign debt bonds. On that meeting also participated representatives of one of the largest specialist U.K. law firm interested on joining this action against the Greek state and/or against the financial institutions who have promoted these products without complying to legal requirements currently in force (MIFID EU Directive...) This action will bring a new dimension to this dispute that has unilaterally written off 53% of the Greek sovereign debt bonds to the detriment of thousand investors around the globe. In February 2014 Mr. Saccucci had additional meetings in London for that matter. In the picture Messrs Kokkinos and Saccucci during their LCHB New York visit.

SCHENGEN RESIDENCE AND TRAVEL THROUGH REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT IN GREECE

In Greece Law 4146/2013 recently implemented, enables third countries' (non E.U.) nationals and their family members, to secure a regular residence -and thus a visa free travel within the whole Schengen area- if they invest in real estate in the country a minimum of 250.000 Euros.

Similar disposals already exist in Cyprus -where we have an open bridge- and in Spain attracting a large number of mainly Chinese and Russians nationals willing to invest in Mediterannean properties and to take advantage of a family residence in Europe.Chinese investment firms are being established for that matter and are already operating in Cyprus. Because of the financial crisis  real estate prices have become substatially lower and many investment opportunities arise mainly in prime properties.

Greek investment law 4146/2013 is indeed very interesting but it still needs some fine tuning though as to its practical implementation. Our law firm works towards standardizing compliance to those requirements in full transparency and with reasonable costs. This legal frame in conjunction with Law 3386/2005 (art. 36A) entitles a five year residence permit to those investing at least 250.000 EUR in real estate property or in long time rental (also 250.000 EUR)  of hotel and tourist accomodation enterprises (Law 4002/2011). In order to assist our potential Chinese customers we have for several years now, a steady startegic partnership in China with one of the top three law firms in this country with offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guanzou and Hong Kong.  For that matter we are setting up a collaboration with reputable law offices in Moscow and in St. Petersbourg. 

MR. KOKKINOS VISITS CYPRUS TO COORDINATE LEGAL ACTION ON BANK DEPOSITS SEIZURE

In view of the upcoming final deadline of June,12th 2013 (that is a few days extension to the previously announced June,8th deadline) for the filing of legal actions in front of the Cypriot Supreme Court against the seizure on all bank deposits on Cyprus Popular Bank (CPB), the supreme Court attorney and senior partner of ELC Constantine Kokkinos was in Cyprus yesterday, meeting officials, local attorneys  and representatives of the Association of the CPB depositors and clients. Considering that the bank clients practically facing confiscation on their savings over 100.000 EUR for reasons unknown and not understandable to them, there comes the need for a coordinated legal action against not only the Bank but also the supervising authorities, -national and European- that apparently were not capable to secure an efficient supervision on proper function of a banking establishment in compliance with the "stringent" Eurozone's rules and regulations. Mr. Kokkinos' visit was successfully completed so as to evaluate additional facts and to coordinate national and European course of legal action already underway.