Comparative Guides

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4. Results: Answers
Enforcement of Foreign Judgments
On what grounds can the defendant challenge recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment?

Answer ... The Cypriot courts will usually give effect to a validly obtained foreign judgment and will not enquire into errors of fact or law in the original decision. The Recast Brussels Regulation and the Brussels I Regulation expressly prohibit the substantive review of a judgment from another member state. However, a defendant may object to the recognition of a judgment – or, in the case of the Recast Brussels Regulation, appeal recognition or enforcement – on the grounds that the original court lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter (both regulations contain detailed provisions in that regard) as follows:

  • Recognition and enforcement would be manifestly contrary to Cypriot public policy;
  • The defendant was not served with proceedings in time to enable the preparation of a proper defence; or
  • Conflicting judgments exits in Cyprus or other member states.

The courts may not refuse or revoke a declaration of enforceability on any other grounds even if, for example, the judgment has already been satisfied (see Case C-139/10, Prism Investments (Area of Freedom, Security and Justice) [2011] ECR I-9511). There is no similar procedure for challenging European order for payment and European small claims procedure judgments, since no recognition is needed prior to enforcement, except where the judgment conflicts with an existing determination between the same parties.

The Hague Convention 2005 expressly prohibits review of the merits of any judgment and provides that the court of recognition is bound by the findings of fact of the original court (unless the judgment was given in default). The party against which enforcement is sought may not make submissions on an application for recognition of a Hague Convention 2005 judgment, but can appeal any decision to recognise on the grounds that the judgment is not enforceable in its state of origin or on a number of additional specified grounds that are similar to those set out in the European regime.

The Law Concerning Foreign Judgments directs the court to recognise judgments that fulfil its requirements, rather than granting it discretionary power, and provides for recognition to be set aside where:

  • the original court lacked jurisdiction;
  • the judgment was obtained by fraud;
  • an appeal is pending or intended to be filed; or
  • the judgment is contrary to Cypriot public policy.

In addition, the law requires that the UK judgment be enforceable in the United Kingdom in order to be recognised, and adds further grounds for challenge where the rights under the judgment are not vested in the person seeking enforcement or where a conflicting judgment exists.

At common law, recognition of the judgment debt is discretionary. The Cypriot courts will not issue a judgment in debt claims based on a judgment of a foreign court that:

  • lacked jurisdiction according to relevant Cypriot conflict of laws rules;
  • was obtained by fraud; or
  • is contrary to public policy in Cyprus or to the requirements of natural justice.

When considering the natural or substantial justice requirement, the court will consider the principles of justice rather than the strict rules. This is not restricted to a lack of notice or denial of a proper opportunity to be heard, although mere procedural irregularity will not be sufficient to preclude recognition and enforcement.

If an appeal is pending in the courts of the jurisdiction of origin, then under the EU regulations, the Hague Convention 2005, the Law Concerning Foreign Judgments or common law, the Cypriot courts have the discretion to grant a stay pending resolution of the appeal.

For foreign judgments issued in countries outside the European Union, the defendant may raise the following defences to challenge recognition or enforcement, either under statute or at common law:

  • The foreign judgment was issued by a court which did not have jurisdiction under the Cypriot rules on the conflict of laws;
  • Enforcement of the foreign judgment will violate Cypriot public policy;
  • The foreign judgment was not made on the merits or according to procedure;
  • The foreign judgment was obtained by fraud; or
  • The proceedings which led to the issue of the foreign judgment were contrary to natural justice.

Further, in the context of enforcement of non-EU foreign judgments under statute, the defendant may raise various procedural objections, such as lack of jurisdiction of the Cypriot courts under Law 121 (I)/2000, failure to present an apostille-certified true copy of the foreign judgment or an official Greek translation and so on.

Common law: At common law, recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment can be refused in the absence of any of the following exhaustive list of principles:

  • The judgment is for a definite sum, final and conclusive;
  • The court which issued the judgment had jurisdiction;
  • The judgment was not obtained by fraud;
  • The procedural rules which apply where the judgment was obtained were followed;
  • The judgment was not contrary to public policy (natural and constitutional justice);
  • The judgment was not inconsistent with a Cypriot judgment on the same matter;
  • The Cypriot court had jurisdiction to enforce the judgment; and
  • The application to enforce the judgment was brought within the relevant limitation period.

For more information about this answer please contact: Soteris Pittas from Soteris Pittas & Co LLC
What is the limitation period for filing a challenge?
The limitation period for filing an opposition to the application for enforcement of a foreign judgment under statute is fixed by the Cypriot court at the time of the first court hearing regarding such application. In the context of enforcement at common law, the defence may be filed within approximately one to three months of the date of receipt of the plaintiff’s statement of claim.

For more information about this answer please contact: Soteris Pittas from Soteris Pittas & Co LLC
Can the defendant seek injunctive relief to prevent enforcement while a challenge is pending?

Answer ... There is no need to apply for an injunction to block the enforcement of a foreign judgment under statute or at common law, as the Cypriot courts will allow enforcement of foreign judgments after hearing any challenge raised by the defendant at an inter partes hearing.

For more information about this answer please contact: Soteris Pittas from Soteris Pittas & Co LLC
Enforcement of Foreign Judgments