Egypt court to review land sale case next month

An Egyptian court has delayed until 8 January 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 2005 sale of land for TMG's US$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 draw a line under the dispute, including signing a new contract for Madinaty that replaces the original deal and re-allocating the land to TMG.

But a series of court verdicts since September 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 give details of the new contract for review.

A 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. The original court ruling said the government sold land to TMG in violation of the 1998 law. The government said 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 scheduled for Saturday was postponed until Tuesday.

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