Egypt court to review land sale case next month

Reuters, Sunday 19 Dec 2010

Egypt court has delayed its verdict on direct sale of public land to Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG). Hearing postponed for 8 January

Madinaty 1
The dispute over Madinaty, a story that will never end. (Photo: Reuters)

An Egyptian court has delayed a hearing on whether the government must auction state land that was sold directly to Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG) for its flagship real estate project. The hearing was postponed until 8 January, 2011.

The 2005 land deal, which provided the grounds for TMG's $3 billion Madinaty project, has been mired in a legal row since June, when an administrative court said the deal was illegal because the land was not sold at public auction, as mandated by a 1998 law.

The government has announced measures to resolve the dispute, including signing a new Mdainaty contract that will replace the original deal and re-allocate the land to TMG.

But since September, a series of court verdicts have insisted on a public auction for the Madinaty land, leading to persistent uncertainty over the validity of sales of state land in Egypt.

The court on Saturday ordered the housing ministry body dealing with TMG to provide details of the new contract for review.

The High Administrative Court had already ruled on 23 November that the government must sell the land by auction.

The case hinges on conflicting laws governing state land deals. While the original court ruling states that the government sold land to TMG in violation of the 1998 law, the government argues it was following legislation that preceded that law.

A separate court ruling on the legality of land ownership by real estate firm Egyptian Resorts Company that was scheduled for Saturday was postponed until Tuesday.

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