Saturday, February 11, 2006


Our solicitor in the UK emailed to say that he's been in touch with the council about our house. They say that because we did the alterations before 1988 (and, presumably, because they were all internal) they don't require planning permission.

On the other hand, our buyer's solicitor might insist that we go through the process of drawing up plans and getting permission granted, which would be expensive and also very time-consuming. Even if they insist on a certificate that says we don't need permssion, that could apparently take six weeks.

So if either of those scenarios occur, we'll have to withdraw on the house sale here. At least it would force the decision.

Meanwhile, the lawyer here has been doing the legal searches on the house we hope to buy. He had some questions for one of the architects, and on Monday is meeting with the vendor (who is acting as his own lawyer rather than employing one) to check a few more details. The solicitor doesn't think they're going to cause problems, but wants to ensure he has all the pertinent information.

Which is fine, as far as we're concerned. This is what we pay lawyers to do, after all! If there is any problem beyond what we already know, we'd like to be aware of it. And the solicitor will be drawing up the contract, so he wants to be certain he knows all the facts before going ahead.

However, the estate agent is not happy. She rang Richard yesterday, shortly after he spoke to the lawyer, and said it was ridiculous how slowly things are going. She wants the contracts signed on Monday, she says that her lawyers could have pushed it through without all this fuss. She says the lawyer is too young (?!) - and 'unprofessional'.

Richard told her that he's doing what we want, and that in the UK we expect lawyers to be careful, rather than rushing things. They're supposed to protect the interests of the client, and that's what he seems to be doing. The agent said that's not what happens here. Richard reminded her that Cyprus is now in Europe, and that increasingly they're going to find that lawyers expect to follow European principles, and that buyers will want them too. She insisted, again, that it's 'unprofessional'.

Then we remembered that we've heard this strange usage of the word before - someone we know wanted to employ a musician for various events. The musician said she wanted to set her fees and hours in advance, and also let him know that she would not be available for a possible event six months ahead. The person wanting to employ her got angry, and insisted that she was ' unprofessional'... which seemed very odd, since she was in fact behaving as one would expect a professional musician to do, even though it's not usual here. Or hasn't been. More normal in Cyprus would be to agree to everything happily, then have a shouting match over the fees at some point in the future, and call in sick at the last moment for the event she knew she could not attend.

We thought it was just a mis-use of English by this particular person, but after the estate agent used it in the same incorrect way, we realised that they don't mean 'unprofessional' at all. They mean 'un-Cypriot'. If 'professional' means 'the way it's always been done in Cyprus, which works well most of the time' then naturally anything like a careful lawyer, or forward-thinking musician, will seem 'unprofessional'.

1 comment:

Lora said...

In the US we have a lot of jokes about hotheads of various ethnicities, but the thought of living in a culture where that is the norm just terrifies me. Hang in there.