§ 19:1 Introduction
For approximately 80 years preceding independence, Cyprus was a British colony. When Cyprus became independent in 1960, the Constitution of the new Republic provided that the laws previously applicable should remain in force until repealed or amended by new laws of the Republic. Since independence, myriad laws have been enacted, and the legal framework has been increasingly aligned with the European acquis communautaire since Cyprus joined the EU in 2004. Nevertheless, English Common Law remains the foundation of the legal system, particularly in relation to commercial matters.
On 1 May 2004, Cyprus, with nine other countries, joined the European Union (EU). Since Cyprus' accession to the EU. EU law now takes precedence over earlier or later domestic law.1 Article 179.1 of the Constitution of Cyprus provides that the Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic; however, when there is a conflict between the provisions of EU law and domestic legislation, EU law will prevail. This reflects the principle of the supremacy of EU law as it was crystallised by case law of the European Court of Justice.
This chapter examines the mechanisms for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in Cyprus under the provisions of the Regulation 44/2001,2 in Common Law, and under statute law. As a rule, the judgments of foreign courts have no direct effect in Cyprus but, provided that certain prerequisites are satisfied, the courts will assist in the enforcement of a foreign judgment. Generally, for a foreign judgment to achieve recognition in Cyprus, it:
1. Must have been issued by a court that has jurisdiction according to the conflict of laws rules applied in Cyprus;
2. May not be contrary to public policy;
3. Must have been made on merit and not according to procedure;
4. May not have been obtained by fraud; and
5. Must have been the outcome of proceedings that were conducted in accordance with natural justice.
Most of the judgments dealt with by the Cyprus courts now originate in other member states of the EU, with judgments from Eastern European countries coming next in volume.
An important distinction must be drawn between the terms "recognition" and "enforcement". Recognition of a judgment means treating the claim which was adjudicated as having been determined once and for all. However, not every judgment entitled to recognition may be enforced, and no judgment can be enforced until it has been recognized. Once enforcement is ordered by the court, the judgment is treated (and can be executed) as if it had been given by a Cyprus court.
1 Costa v. ENEL 1964, Case 6/64  E.C.R. 585.
2 Regulation on jurisdiction and recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, OJ 2001 L 12/1. See also Regulation 805/2004 on the enforcement of uncontested claims.
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Previously published by Thomson Reuters, April 2013.
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