1 Legal framework
1.1 What system of jurisprudence applies in your jurisdiction? What implications does this have for litigation?
The Cyprus legal system is a mixed system - although Cyprus may be characterised as a common law jurisdiction, as Cypriot law is largely based on and modelled after the English common law which is still applied by the Cyprus courts by virtue of Section 29(1)(c) of the Courts of Justice Law, which provides that the Cyprus courts will apply the common law and the principles of equity.
The first implication of this is that the Cyprus justice system is adversarial, much like all other common law systems. The second implication is that the Cyprus courts follow the 'stare decisis' doctrine. In other words, the Cyprus courts are required to follow and apply binding case law precedent.
1.2 What rules govern litigation in your jurisdiction?
Civil procedure is mainly governed by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), which are modelled after the Rules of the Supreme Court that applied in the United Kingdom before 1960. The CPR apply to all civil proceedings pending before the district courts and in some cases in civil proceedings before special courts by analogy. Notably, in September 2023 modernised new Civil Procedure Rules will enter into force which, among other things, will:
- afford the courts significant case management powers; and
- introduce an overriding objective to enable the court to deal with cases justly and at proportionate cost.
The implementation of the new rules is expected to contribute to a fairer and more efficient justice system, thus strengthening the rule of law in Cyprus.
Additional procedural rules include:
- the Companies Rules;
- the Administration of Estates Rules; and
- the Bankruptcy Rules.
The criminal process is also modelled on the English system of law and governed by the Criminal Procedure Law (Cap 155).
1.3 Do any special regimes apply to specific claims?
Claims which are for a monetary amount smaller than €3,000 are dealt with by specific rules set out in CPR O.30, which provides for a 'fast-track' procedure whereby the case is heard on written evidence and no oral evidence is adduced.
Part 29 of the new Civil Procedure Rules which are scheduled to take effect on 1 September 2023 provides for rules which apply to small claims where the amount in dispute is less than €10,000.
1.4 Which bilateral and multilateral instruments have relevance to litigation in your jurisdiction?
The bilateral and multilateral instruments which directly affect litigation in Cyprus are, without limitation, those which determine:
- governing law; and
- judicial cooperation (eg, enforcement and recognition, service of judicial documents and judicial assistance).
Cyprus is a party to several such bilateral instruments, such as:
- the Treaty between the Republic of Cyprus and the People's Republic of China on Judicial Assistance in Civil, Commercial and Criminal Matters;
- the Treaty Between the Republic of Cyprus and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Legal Assistance in Civil and Criminal Matters (succession by the Russian Federation); and
- the Agreement Between the Republic of Cyprus and Ukraine on Legal Assistance in Civil Matters.
Cyprus, as an EU member state, is also bound by and applies the following EU instruments, among others:
- EU Regulation 1215/2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (recast);
- EU Regulation 1784/2020 on the service in member states of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters (which entered into force on 1 July 2022);
- EU Regulation 593/2008 on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I); and
- EU Regulation 864/2007 on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (Rome II).
Reference should also be made to the following multilateral conventions to which Cyprus is a party:
- the Hague Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters; and
- the Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (EU accession; will enter into force on 1 September 2023).
2 Judicial structure
2.1 What courts exist in your jurisdiction and how are they structured?
The Supreme Court is currently the highest judicial organ in Cyprus. It is composed of 13 justices, of whom one is the president. The Supreme Court not only acts as the country's appellate court, but also exercises various other jurisdictions such as the following:
- Appellate jurisdiction: The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine:
- all appeals from lower courts in civil and criminal matters; and
- all appeals from decisions of specialist courts (eg, the Rent Control Tribunal; the Industrial Disputes Tribunal).
- Appeals from administrative recourses: The Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear any appeals against decisions of the Administrative Court on administrative recourses.
- Prerogative jurisdiction: The Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction to issue the prerogative writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari, quo warranto and prohibition.
- Admiralty jurisdiction: The Supreme Court has both first instance and appellate jurisdiction with regard to admiralty cases. At first instance, the case is heard by a single judge of the Supreme Court and on appeal the case is heard by the full bench.
- Election petitions: The Supreme Court is the country's electoral court and has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine petitions concerning the interpretation and application of electoral laws.
- Constitutional matters: The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to examine the constitutionality of any law or any conflict of power or competence which arises between any organs or authorities of Cyprus. In addition, the Supreme Court hears and determines any recourse by the president of Cyprus regarding the compatibility with the constitution of any law enacted by the House of Representatives.
On 1 July 2023, following an extensive and long-awaited reform to the Cyprus justice system, the Supreme Court will be separated into two distinct entities:
- the Supreme Court; and
- the Supreme Constitutional Court.
Additionally, a new Appellate Court will be established.
The Supreme Constitutional Court's main function will be to resolve:
- any constitutional matter as may be referred by any other court; and
- any administrative review matter as may be referred by the new Appellate Court.
The Supreme Court will act as a third level-appellate court, competent to resolve any matter referred to it by the newly established Appellate Court (apart from constitutional matters, which will fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Constitutional Court).
There are also four district courts in Cyprus (Nicosia/Kyrenia, Larnaca/Famagusta, Limassol and Paphos), which hear all civil cases on a first-instance basis as well as certain criminal cases.
Finally, there are four assize courts with unlimited jurisdiction to hear and determine any criminal case at first instance. However, in practice, the assize courts only hear criminal cases where the sentence provided by law for the offence in question exceeds five years' imprisonment.
2.2 What specialist courts or tribunals exist in your jurisdiction?
Family courts: The family courts have exclusive jurisdiction to hear petitions for:
- child custody disputes;
- maintenance disputes; and
- property disputes between spouses where the parties are members of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Administrative Court: The Administrative Court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear administrative recourses made to it against any administrative decision, act or omission of any person, organ or authority exercising executive or administrative authority. A decision, act or omission may be annulled on the grounds that it is:
- in excess or abuse of any power vested in the administrative organ; or
- contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.
International Protection Administrative Court: The International Protection Administrative Court has exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate any recourse made to it by an asylum seeker under Section 146 of the Constitution against a decision, act or omission relating to the Refugee Law of 2000.
Rent Control Tribunal: The Rent Control Tribunal determines matters regarding recovery of possession of controlled rented property and the determination of fair rent, as well as any other incidental matters.
Industrial Disputes Tribunal: The Industrial Disputes Tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction to determine matters involving the following:
- termination of employment;
- payment in lieu of notice;
- compensation arising from redundancy;
- any other claim for any payment arising from the contract of employment;
- unequal treatment or sexual harassment in the workplace; and
- disputes between provident funds and their members.
Military Court: The Military Court is the competent court to try criminal offences committed by the military pursuant to the Military Criminal Code or the Criminal Code (Cap 154), as well as any other legislation. Furthermore, the Military Court has jurisdiction to try criminal offences committed by reservists and conscripts contrary to Sections 67 and 68 of the National Guard Law (19(I)/2011).
Specialised courts: In 2022, the House of Representatives passed a law establishing two new specialised courts: the Commercial Court and the Admiralty Court.
The Commercial Court will have jurisdiction to decide at first instance any commercial dispute (subject to certain exceptions) where the amount in dispute or the value of the dispute exceeds €2 million. The Admiralty Court will have jurisdiction over any admiralty dispute, as defined in the relevant legislation.
3.1 What formalities apply before litigation can be commenced in your jurisdiction?
Currently, there are no prerequisites or formalities (eg, pre-action protocols or mandatory alternative dispute resolution) applicable before litigation can be commenced in Cyprus.
3.2 Do any pre-action protocols or similar rules apply prior to the commencement of litigation? What are the consequences of non-compliance?
Not according to the Civil Procedure Rules which are currently in force. The new Civil Procedure Rules, which will apply from 1 September 2023, provide for mandatory pre-action conduct. If a party fails to comply, the court will have the power to impose sanctions. However, the new Civil Procedure Rules also provide for some exceptional cases where compliance with pre-action conduct is not mandatory (eg, urgent claims).
3.3 What other factors should a party consider before commencing litigation in your jurisdiction?
Before commencing litigation in Cyprus, a party should consider (without limitation) the following:
- the chances of success;
- the availability and admissibility of the evidence which will be presented before the court;
- the financial position of the prospective defendant and the prospects of recovery;
- the prospective costs and duration of litigation;
- whether the Cyprus court has jurisdiction to hear the claim;
- limitation periods; and
- the potential enforcement measures that are available.
4 Commencing litigation
4.1 What rules on limitations periods apply in your jurisdiction?
Limitation periods are set out in the Limitation of Actions Law (66(I)/2012), which came into force on 1 July 2012 (although, pursuant to its provisions, the calculation of the limitation period starts from 1 January 2016).
Under Law 66(I)/2012, the limitation period starts to run from the perfection of the cause of action.
General limitation period: According to Section 4 of Law 66(I)/2012, no action can be brought if 10 years have elapsed since completion of the cause of action.
Special limitation periods: These are as follows:
- Claims brought in respect of a mortgage or pledge: Twelve years from the breach of obligation contained in the mortgage or pledge.
- General torts: Six years from the date on which the damage occurred or from the date of knowledge of the injured party.
- Torts relating to negligence, nuisance or breach of duty: Three years from the date on which the damage occurred or from the date of knowledge of the injured party.
- Torts relating to defamation or malicious falsehood: One year from the date of publication.
- Common contract law claims: Six years from the breach of contract.
- Contract or quasi-contracts: Three years from completion of the cause of action.
- Contractual claims: Six years from completion of the cause of action.
Commencement of the limitation period can be suspended in case of fraud, concealment or mistake. In such cases, the limitation period starts to run not from the date of completion of the basis of the action, but from the date on which the fraud, concealment or mistake was discovered or could with reasonable diligence had been discovered by the claimant. In addition, the limitation period can be extended for up to two years if the court considers that it is fair and reasonable to extend the limitation period.
4.2 What rules on jurisdiction and how this is determined apply in your jurisdiction?
There are two sets of rules governing jurisdiction in Cyprus:
- the EU regime (Brussels Regulation Recast); and
- the national rules (Civil Procedure Rules (CPR)), which are residual and are invoked only where the EU regime does not apply.
According to the Brussels Regulation Recast and as a general rule, the Cyprus courts will exercise jurisdiction over a dispute if the defendant is domiciled in Cyprus, irrespective of nationality (see Article 4 of the Brussels Regulation Recast). In addition, defendants domiciled in other EU member states may be sued in Cyprus if the special instances of jurisdiction envisaged in Section 2 of the Brussels Regulation Recast apply. For example, in cases of tort, this will be the case if Cyprus is the place where the harmful event occurred or may occur.
The doctrine of forum non conveniens (pursuant to which the court may decline to exercise jurisdiction because the courts of another jurisdiction are deemed to be more appropriate to hear the dispute in question) cannot be invoked in cases where the Cyprus courts assume jurisdiction on the basis of the EU regime (based on the landmark decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Owusu v Jackson); whereas it can be invoked where the jurisdiction is based on the national rules.
In order for the Cyprus courts to assume jurisdiction over a foreign defendant (residing outside the European Union), they must be satisfied that the case is an appropriate to grant leave for service of the writ of summons or the notice of the writ of summons out of the jurisdiction. Leave may be granted only in cases where at least one of the jurisdictional gateways set out in Order 6, Rule 1 of the CPR is satisfied:
- Subject to section 15 of the Courts of Justice Law, Cap.
11, service out of the jurisdiction of a writ of summons or notice
of a writ of summons may be allowed by the Court or a, Judge
- the whole subject matter of the action is immovable property of any kind situated in Cyprus; or
- any act, deed, will, contract, obligation, or liability affecting immovable property of any kind situated in Cyprus, is sought to be construed, rectified, set aside, or enforced in the action; or
- any relief is sought against any person domiciled or ordinarily resident in Cyprus; or
- the action is for the administration of the movable property of any deceased person who at the time of his death was domiciled in Cyprus, or for the execution (as to property situated in Cyprus) of the trusts of any written instrument, of which the person to be served is a trustee, which ought to be executed according to the law of Cyprus; or
- the action is one brought to enforce, rescind, dissolve,
annul, or otherwise affect a contract or to recover damages or
other relief for or in respect of the breach of a
- made in Cyprus, or
- made by or through an agent trading or residing in Cyprus on behalf of a principal trading or residing out of Cyprus, or is one brought in respect of a breach committed in Cyprus of a contract wherever made, even though such breach was preceded or accompanied by a breach out of Cyprus which rendered impossible the performance of the part of the contract which ought to have been performed in Cyprus; or
- the action is founded on a civil wrong committed in Cyprus; or
- any injunction is sought as to anything to be done in Cyprus, or any nuisance in Cyprus is sought to be prevented or removed, whether damages are or are not also sought in respect thereof; or
- any person out of Cyprus is a necessary or proper party to an action properly brought against some other person duly served in Cyprus.
If the Cypriot courts are satisfied that at least one of the gateways set out in Order 6, Rule 1 is established, they may assume jurisdiction over a defendant out of the jurisdiction.
The new Civil Procedure Rules also contain provisions on service out of jurisdiction which largely mirror the foregoing (Part 6).
4.3 Are class actions permitted in your jurisdiction?
In accordance with Order 9, Rule 9(1) of the CPR, when numerous persons have the same interest in one cause or matter, one or more of such persons may be authorised by the court to sue or defend in such cause or matter on behalf or for the benefit of all persons so interested.
For this rule to apply:
- all members of the alleged class should have a common interest and a common grievance; and
- the relief in its nature must be beneficial to all.
Before such authorisation is granted, a certified power of attorney signed by the persons to be represented must be filed with the writ of summons, except in the case of:
- any unincorporated religious, charitable, philanthropic, educational, social or athletic institution; or
- any association not established or conducted for profit.
According to the new Civil Procedure Rules, when a claimant claims relief to which another person is entitled together with such claimant, all such persons that are jointly entitled to relief must be parties unless the court orders otherwise. Furthermore, if a person does not agree to be a claimant, that person must be added as a defendant (Part 20).
4.4 What are the formal requirements for commencing litigation?
A claimant must ensure that it has a valid cause of action against the prospective defendant(s) which is not time barred. After 1 September 2023, the claimant must also ensure that it has complied with the pre-action protocols contained in the new Civil Procedure Rules.
4.5 What are the procedural and substantive requirements for commencing litigation?
Save where other provision is made, an action is commenced by a writ of summons, which can be:
- generally endorsed (containing only a list of the remedies sought); or
- specially endorsed (enclosing a detailed statement of claim).
In the case of Cypriot claimants, the writ of summons must be accompanied by a retainer evidencing the appointment of the lawyer.
Under the new Civil Procedure Rules, proceedings shall start by way of claim form, either in:
- the form prescribed by Part 7 (Form 4); or
- the form prescribed by Part 8 (where there is no substantial dispute of facts).
4.6 Are interim remedies available in your jurisdiction? If so, how are they obtained?
In accordance with Section 32 of the Courts of Justice Law (14/60), the Cyprus courts can issue a variety of interim remedies, such as:
- prohibitory orders;
- receivership orders;
- disclosure orders (usually obtained together with ancillary gagging orders);
- search (Anton Piller) orders;
- anti-suit injunctions; and
- European account preservation orders.
Once a claim has been filed, interim relief may be sought on the very same day. If an ex parte application is made, the court will fix such application for an ex parte hearing in a few days' time. If obtained, an ex parte order will be fixed as returnable after a few days (usually seven to 10 days from issuance of the order). During that time, the applicant must provide an undertaking in such amount as the court may require. After the undertaking is filed, the registrar will draw up the order and the applicant will serve same on the respondent in time for it to appear at the returnable stage. At that stage, the respondent usually requests the court to give it time to file a written opposition. Thereafter, and provided that no other interim application is made (eg, an application for supplementary affidavits), the court will fix the case for a hearing on whether the interim order issued will be rendered absolute (ie, will continue in force until the final adjudication of the proceedings) or discharged.
If there is no urgency or peculiar circumstances, a summons application for interim relief may be filed. The application will be fixed by the court in a few weeks' time (usually one to two months after filing), and the applicant must serve the respondent with such application in the meantime. The respondent will then ask the court for time to file an opposition as per the above description.
Part 25 of the new Civil Procedure Rules will govern interim measures.
Rule 25.1 contains an indicative but not exhaustive list of interim relief which the court will have power to grant - for example:
- an order appointing a receiver;
- an order for the disclosure of documents or inspection of assets before a claim is brought; or
- an injunction prohibiting the defendant from disposing of assets out of the jurisdiction.
Part 25.9 also specifically regulates freezing injunctions (also known as Mareva injunctions) as well as Anton Piller injunctions. The new rules will also include draft orders of such interim injunctions (Annex I)
4.7 Under what circumstances must security for costs be provided?
According to CPR O.60, a defendant may apply for an order requiring the claimant to provide security for costs at any stage in the proceedings. Usually, the amount of security ordered is the amount of costs expected to be incurred in the proceedings. The circumstances under which security for costs will be ordered are as follows:
- The defendant must be ordinarily resident outside the European Union; and
- It must be shown that the defendant has insufficient means to satisfy any costs order that may be made against it.
An order for security for costs may also be made against a company incorporated in Cyprus if there is reason to believe that the company will be unable to pay the costs of the defendant. In such case, the court may stay the proceedings until the security is given (Section 382 of the Companies Law (Cap 113)).
Security for costs is also foreseen by Part 26 of the new Civil Procedure Rules.
5.1 What rules apply to disclosure in your jurisdiction? Do any exceptions apply to certain types of documents?
In general, the rule is that the parties to litigation in Cyprus must disclose all relevant documents. Directions for disclosure are given at the pre-trial directions stage.
According to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), the parties must disclose all documents which are or have been in their possession or power relating to any matter in question in the action.
Furthermore, documents referred to in pleadings or affidavits must be produced or allowed for inspection where the other party requests this in writing. If a document that is requested to be produced is claimed to be privileged, the court will inspect it and decide whether it should be produced.
Discovery of documents is usually followed by the inspection of documents, which is a separate stage during which each party is required to produce the documents it has disclosed to the other party.
The new Civil Procedure Rules (Part 31) require a party to disclose:
- documents on which it relies; and
- documents which adversely affect its case, adversely affect another party's case or support another party's case (termed 'standard disclosure').
According to Rule 31.4, a party must proceed to standard disclosure at least 14 days before a case management hearing; whereas any supplementary standard disclosure may be made at any time, but at least six months prior to the hearing date of the case.
According to Rule 31.5, any party can also file and serve the other parties with a request for specific disclosure.
The new rules will also grant parties the opportunity to file an application for disclosure before proceedings have started, subject to certain requirements being met (Rule 31.7).
5.2 What rules on third-party disclosure apply in your jurisdiction?
In general, the current CPR does not provide for third-party disclosure. However, if documents or information relevant to the matters in question in an action is held by a third party such as a bank, a subpoena duces tecum may be issued, requesting such a person to attend court to present the documents or information in its possession. Such power is granted by Order 32 of the CPR.
Another way in which third-party disclosure in the wider sense may be ordered under Cyprus law is through the medium of a Norwich Pharmacal type order, under which a third party which has been mixed up in a wrongdoing may be ordered to produce documents or information in its possession that will help the claimant to pursue the claim against the ultimate wrongdoer.
According to the new Civil Procedure Rules, and specifically Rule 31.6 thereof, a party will have the right, within the timeframe set by the court, to file an application for the grant of an order of special disclosure of documents against a person that is not a party to the case.
5.3 What rules on privilege apply in your jurisdiction? Does attorney-client privilege extend to in-house counsel?
Legal professional privilege is one of the most fundamental rules on privilege applicable under Cyprus law, as provided by the Advocates Law (Cap 2) and the Advocates Code of Conduct. Other common forms of privilege are:
- 'without prejudice' communications; and
- privilege against self-incrimination.
There is no clear-cut answer to the question of whether legal professional privilege extends to in-house lawyers in the absence of any specific rule or case law on the matter. According to the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (which is binding on the Cyprus courts), communications between a company and its in-house lawyer are not considered privileged (Akzo Nobel v European Commission (C-550/07)).
5.4 How have technological advances affected the disclosure process in your jurisdiction?
It remains to be seen how recent technological advances may affect the disclosure process in Cyprus in future. Currently, there is no requirement to file disclosure electronically; although a system of electronic justice was adopted in Cyprus in early 2021.
5.5 What specific considerations should be borne in mind during the disclosure process, for both plaintiff and defendant?
According to the CPR, a party's failure to proceed to discovery or inspection of documents when ordered to do so will have serious consequences. This is true for both plaintiffs and defendants. In particular:
- if any party refuses to allow inspection or fails to comply with any order for discovery or inspection of documents, it will be:
- liable to attachment;
- liable to have its action dismissed, if a plaintiff; and
- liable to have its defence struck out, if a defendant (CPR O.28, r 12); and
- if a party ordered to make discovery of documents fails so to do, it will not thereafter be at liberty to put in evidence on its behalf in the action any document it failed to discover unless the court is satisfied that there is sufficient excuse (CPR O.28, r 3).
6.1 What types of evidence are permissible in your jurisdiction?
The rules governing evidence are set out in the Evidence Law (Cap 9). In general, all evidence (whether documentary, witness, expert or real evidence) available to the party in litigation is admissible, provided that:
- it is relevant to the questions in issue; and
- it satisfies the 'best evidence' rule.
Evidence is inadmissible if it:
- was unlawfully obtained;
- otherwise violates the Constitution of Cyprus or privilege; or
- is irrelevant.
Furthermore, since 2004, hearsay evidence has been admissible; although the weight that the court will attach to such evidence may vary depending on several factors, which are set out in Section 23 of the Evidence Law.
According to Part 32 of the new Civil Procedure Rules, the court has the power to exclude evidence which would otherwise be admissible pursuant to the Evidence Law. The new rules also:
- specify how evidence is to be given in courts;
- contain provisions on cross-examination; and
- regulate the contents of affidavits.
6.2 What rules apply to expert evidence in your jurisdiction? What specific considerations should be borne in mind when preparing and presenting expert evidence?
Expert evidence is admissible under certain conditions. In particular, in order for the court to allow a witness to testify as to his or her opinion, the court must be satisfied that his or her opinion is necessary to answer a specific question arising in the case. Furthermore, to qualify as an expert, it must first be established that a witness, on account of his or her knowledge and experience in a given field, is qualified and independent, to the extent that it is safe to admit his or her opinion as evidence of the fact in issue.
Under Cyprus law, an expert witness must provide the court with all necessary scientific and technical considerations and requirements to enable it to assess the correctness of the expert's conclusions, by applying the considerations to the specific facts of the case that have been proved.
Lastly, and by way of example, foreign law is considered to be a rule of fact and, as such, must be positively proven by adducing evidence. Such evidence is usually by way of expert opinion on the content of the foreign law in question.
6.3 What other factors should be borne in mind when preparing and presenting evidence in your jurisdiction?
At the hearing of a case, the plaintiff must prove its case on the balance of probabilities by adducing sufficient and admissible evidence regarding all allegations that are not admitted by the defendant.
Where the parties agree, the court may give directions for the exchange of full evidence in writing, so that the fast-track procedure provided by Civil Procedure Rule O.30 in relation to low-scale cases will apply.
7 Court proceedings
7.1 What case management powers do the courts have in your jurisdiction?
According to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), the Cyprus courts have the following powers after the pleadings are completed and at the pre-trial stage (non-exhaustive list):
- to order the discovery and inspection of documents;
- to order the provision of further and better particulars of a statement of claim or defence; and
- to order the parties to exchange a list of admitted facts.
Following this stage, the court will order the parties to file a list of their prospective witnesses and a synopsis of their testimony.
Furthermore, the Cyprus courts may in any case issue additional directions as they consider appropriate and fair having regard to the following criteria:
- equal treatment of the parties;
- saving or mitigation of costs; and
- management of the case in proportion to:
- the amount in dispute;
- the importance of the case; and
- the complexity of the issues raised, whether factual or legal.
The new Civil Procedure Rules afford the courts with extensive case management powers set out in Part 3 thereof and include, among other things, the power to:
- extend or shorten the time for compliance with any rule or court order;
- adjourn or bring forward a hearing;
- consolidate proceedings;
- require a party's legal representative to attend the court; and
- direct a separate trial of any issue.
The new rules also prescribe:
- the court's power to make orders on its own initiative; and
- the court's general power to rectify matters where there has been an error of procedure.
7.2 Are court proceedings in your jurisdiction public or private? If the former, are any options available to the parties to keep the proceedings or related information confidential?
Court proceedings in Cyprus are public.
A rare exception occurs when the court decides that a public hearing would be against the public order, safety, morals or security of the state.
The case file is confidential, and as such is accessible and available for inspection only by the parties to the proceedings and by the court. Furthermore, privileged or confidential information and documents may also be protected as classified.
7.3 How is the applicable law determined? What happens in the event of a conflict of laws?
The relevant instrument or conflict of laws rules that determine the applicable law will depend on the nature of the particular claim in question.
If the claim is contractual, the parties are free to choose the law that governs their contract. This choice will be respected by the Cyprus courts, except where certain conditions are met. This principle emanates from the Rome I Regulation.
However, where all other elements relevant to the situation at the time of the choice are connected with one country only, a choice of a foreign law will not prejudice the application of the rules of the law of that country, which cannot be derogated from by contract (mandatory rules) (Article 3(3) of the Rome I Regulation). Additionally, the Cyprus courts can restrict the application of a foreign law if it is incompatible with public policy.
Foreign law must be proved as a fact. Therefore, the parties bear the burden of proving the applicable foreign law, which is usually done by way of adducing expert evidence. If they fail to do so, there is a presumption that the foreign law is identical to Cyprus law and the courts will thus apply Cyprus law.
If the claim is not contractual in nature, but is a claim in tort or quasi-tort, the applicable law will be determined by applying the EU Rome II Regulation (864/2007). Once again, the Cyprus courts can refuse to apply foreign law if it is incompatible with public policy.
7.4 What rules apply to the joinder of third parties?
Third parties may be joined in an existing action pending before the court under the current CPR.
In particular, the court may - either following an application or on its own motion - join additional parties to a case either as plaintiffs (although some considerations apply, such as where the party does not wish to be joined as a plaintiff) or as defendants, if their presence before the court is necessary to enable it to effectually and completely adjudicate upon all issues in dispute.
The new Civil Procedure Rules also prescribe the procedure to be followed in case of joinder of parties. In particular, the matter is governed by Part 20 thereof.
7.5 How do the court proceedings unfold in your jurisdiction? What specific considerations should be borne in mind at each stage of the process, for both plaintiff and defendant?
Following the filing of the writ of summons, the parties must file their respective pleadings - that is:
- the statement of claim;
- the defence (and/or counterclaim if applicable); and
- the reply to the defence.
Where a generally endorsed writ of summons is filed, a generally endorsed writ of summons must be filed within 10 days of the date of filing of the defendant's appearance.
After the pleadings are completed, pre-trial directions will be given by the court for, among other things, discovery of documents and security for costs. Thereafter, the case is fixed for hearing.
The new Civil Procedure Rules contain extensive provisions on:
- pleadings (Part 16 and 17);
- amendments to pleadings (Part 18);
- further particulars (Part 19); and
- general rules about applications for court (Part 23).
- Rule 23.10 provides for the duty of the parties and their lawyers to assist the court in agreeing among themselves on the timeframes of each proceedings; and
- Rule 23.11 provides that at the directions hearing, the court determines the timeframe of the proceedings and gives directions for:
- the filing of oppositions;
- written evidence;
- applications for cross-examination;
- written addresses; and
- the hearing date, its duration and the time granted to each party.
7.6 What is the typical timeframe for the court proceedings?
Depending on whether any other interim applications are filed (eg, applications to strike out pleadings, applications for amendments of pleadings), an action – if opposed – will be heard within five to six years of the date of filing.
8 Judgment and remedies
8.1 What types of judgments, orders and other remedies are available in your jurisdiction?
The Cyprus courts can grant a variety of remedies, including:
- compensatory judgments for general and/or special damages. General damage is such as the law will presume to be the natural consequence of the defendant's actions (eg, pain and suffering); whereas special damages will depend on the special circumstance of the particular case (eg, damages incurred following breach of contract);
- orders for specific performance (in relation to a contract);
- judgments for punitive damages, which aim to punish and deter the defendant;
- declaratory judgments of right, whether any consequential relief is claimed or not;
- mandatory or prohibitory final orders on the basis of Section 32 of Courts of Justice Law; and
9.1 On what grounds may a judgment be appealed in your jurisdiction?
Under Cyprus law, judgments may be appealed on points of law or fact. However, judgments on recourses of the Administrative Court can be appealed on points of law only.
In general, the Supreme Court does not interfere in the exercise of the first-instance court's discretion, unless it is satisfied that the exercise of such discretion was outside the framework provided by law or has resulted in manifest injustice.
Part 41 of the new Civil Procedure Rules will govern civil appeals. Notably, Rule 41.2 prescribes a new procedure for leave to file an appeal.
From 1 July 2023, civil and criminal appeals will be heard by the newly established Appellate Court comprising 16 justices.
9.2 What is the appeals process? Is the judgment stayed while the appeal is pending?
A notice of appeal must be filed by the appellant within the prescribed timeframe. The notice is then served on the respondent. Thereafter, the appeal is fixed for pre-trial. At that stage, the court orders the parties to file their respective outlines of written address within 90 days (45 days for the appellant and then 45 days for the respondent). The appeal is then fixed for hearing and each party has 30 minutes to orally address the court and present its case.
As a general rule, appeals do not operate as a stay on the execution of the judgment under appeal. However, such a stay of execution may be ordered either by the first-instance court or, failing that, by the Supreme Court, on application by the appellant.
The new Civil Procedure Rules largely mirror the above, with the addition of:
- the new provisions on leave to file appeal;
- case management powers; and
- the power to reopen an appeal after final judgment has been issued.
9.3 What specific considerations should be borne in mind during the appeals process, for both plaintiff and defendant?
An appeal against an interlocutory order or judgment must be brought within 14 days. Any other appeal must be brought within 42 days (or six weeks) of the date on which the order or judgment becomes binding, unless this timeline is extended by either the first-instance court or the Supreme Court.
Following an amendment to the Courts of Justice Law 1(4/60) in 2017, only certain categories of interim judgments are subject to appeal. This matter may be raised by either the respondent or the Supreme Court on its own motion; if the Supreme Court deems that the judgment under appeal is not appealable, it will dismiss the appeal.
10.1 How are domestic judgments enforced in your jurisdiction?
A domestic judgment is automatically enforceable upon its issuance, unless the court provides otherwise (eg, if a stay of execution is ordered).
Thereafter, the judgment creditor has several means of execution of the judgment debt.
These are provided for in the Civil Procedure Rules (Orders 40 to 43B) and the Civil Procedure Law (Cap 6).
A domestic judgment ordering the payment of a monetary sum can be enforced through all or any of the following methods:
- a writ of execution for the sale of movables;
- a writ for sale of immovable property or registration of a charging order over the property;
- a writ of sequestration of immovable property;
- a garnishee order;
- an order for repayment of the judgment debt in instalments on a monthly basis. The amount of the instalments is determined by the court according to the financial position of the judgment debtor;
- a writ of possession, ordering property to be delivered to the judgment creditor;
- a writ of delivery, ordering movable property to be delivered to the judgment creditor; or
- a charging order over the interest of the judgment debtor on shares owned by the judgment debtor (Charging Orders Law 31(I)/1992).
10.2 How are foreign judgments enforced in your jurisdiction?
Several instruments govern the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in Cyprus, ranging from EU regulations to bilateral and multilateral treaties and statutes. Therefore, the manner in which judgments are recognised and enforced in Cyprus largely depends on the country of origin of the relevant judgment.
Foreign judgments can be recognised and enforced in Cyprus in accordance with the Recognition of Judgments of Foreign Courts Law of 2000 (L 121(I)/2000).
Furthermore, judgments rendered in a country with which Cyprus has no bilateral treaty or which is not a party to any multilateral treaty for recognition and enforcement are capable of recognition and enforcement on the basis of the common law. To enforce a judgment issued in a country that has no treaty for the recognition of a judgment with Cyprus, the claimant must file a fresh civil action before a Cyprus court requesting relief identical to that provided for by the foreign judgment, based on the existence of the foreign judgment.
Judgments rendered in any EU member state (except Denmark) are recognised pursuant to EU Regulation 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, which applies to all judgments issued on or after 10 January 2015.
EU Regulation 805/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 creating a European enforcement order for uncontested claims enables judgments on uncontested civil and commercial claims issued by a court of a member state (except Denmark) to be automatically recognised and enforced in any other member state.
Small claims whose value does not exceed €5,000 are subject to EU Regulation 861/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 establishing a European small claims procedure. This streamlined procedure applies to judgments in civil and commercial disputes. A judgment issued under the European small claims procedure will be recognised and enforced without the need for a declaration of enforceability.
EU Regulation 2015/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on insolvency proceedings is directly applicable in Cyprus. Under this regulation, a judgment initiating insolvency proceedings issued by a competent court of an EU member state will be recognised in Cyprus and vice versa.
Judgments issued in Switzerland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland may be recognised and enforced in Cyprus on the basis of the Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters of 2007, which closely resembles EU Regulation 44/2001 (now replaced by EU Regulation 1215/2012).
The recognition of judgments rendered in the United Kingdom, British dominions, protectorates and mandated territories is governed by the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Law of 1935 (Cap 10), as amended. This law was modelled on the corresponding English legislation – that is, the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933.
Cyprus is a party to several bilateral treaties governing the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments (with China, Egypt, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Syria and Ukraine). Thus, whenever a judgment issued in one of the aforesaid states is issued and the claimant wishes to recognise and enforce it in the territory of Cyprus, reference must be made to the specific bilateral treaty and the law ratifying it. By way of example, Cyprus and Russia (as a successor of the Soviet Union) are parties to the Treaty between the Republic of Cyprus and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Legal Assistance in Civil and Criminal Matters ratified by Law 172/1986. Importantly, Article 27 of the treaty provides that an application for the enforcement of a judgment must be submitted to a judicial authority at the place where the judgment was given (eg, the competent Russian court). This authority will then transmit the application to the competent court of Cyprus. It is only when the party applying for enforcement of foreign judgment its permanent or temporary residence (location) in the territory of Cyprus that the application may be submitted directly to the competent court of Cyprus.
Lastly, Cyprus is also a signatory to the following multilateral conventions relating to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments:
- the Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters (EU accession; will enter into force on 1 September 2023); and
- the European Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions concerning Custody of Children and/or Restoration of Custody of Children 1980.
The new Civil Procedure Rules also contain provisions relating to the recognition and enforcement of judgments in EU member states (Rules 45.57 and following).
10.3 What specific considerations should be borne in mind during the enforcement process, for both plaintiff and defendant?
Depending on the place of issuance of the judgment, different rules apply. In addition, these rules are often prescribed by multilateral and bilateral treaties and conventions. In that case, the Cyprus courts will perceive such rules as imperative and will not accept any deviations therefrom. In other words, the provisions of international treaties and conventions must be strictly complied with; otherwise, the court may desist from recognition and enforcement.
The grounds which a defendant puts forward to set aside the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment issued against it in Cyprus will vary depending on the instrument governing such recognition. For example, if the judgment was rendered in an EU member state, the only available grounds for the court to refuse recognition are those set out in Article 45 of EU Regulation 1215/2012.
In general, however, the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment may be refused on the following grounds:
- There are public policy reasons to refuse recognition and enforcement;
- There has been a breach of natural justice or the right to be heard;
- The foreign court which issued the judgment lacked jurisdiction;
- The foreign judgment was obtained by fraud;
- The judgment is not final and conclusive; or
- The judgment is inconsistent with a prior Cypriot court judgment on the same matter.
Regardless of the country of origin of the judgment, it is not open to the Cyprus court to review the judgment on its merits or substance.
11 Costs, fees and funding
11.1 What costs and fees are incurred when litigating in your jurisdiction?
When litigating in Cyprus, a party can expect that there will be costs and expenses in both bringing and defending an action. The amount of costs in civil proceedings varies significantly, depending on the scale and complexity of the claim. Costs are awarded at the end of the proceedings at the court's discretion and include value added tax and disbursements.
The general rule is that the unsuccessful party will bear the litigation costs of the winning party, usually by reference to the Regulations of the Supreme Court.
11.2 Are contingency fees and similar arrangements permitted in your jurisdiction?
Contingency fee and other similar arrangements are not permitted in Cyprus.
Attorneys in Cyprus must always act free from any form of dependence or pressure, especially that arising from their own interests (Regulation 22 of the Advocates' Ethics Regulations). In addition, recent case law in Cyprus (obiter dicta) is that contingency fees are not compatible with the Advocates' Rules (ES v AB, Action 2843/2011, 19 July 2018).
11.3 Is third-party funding permitted in your jurisdiction?
Third-party funding is not available in Cyprus.
11.4 What other strategies should parties consider to mitigate the costs of litigation?
Parties that wish to mitigate the costs of litigation may consider limiting the amount of interlocutory applications filed, which can cost the parties significant time and money.
Furthermore, the Civil Procedure Rules provides for a fast-track procedure whereby no oral evidence is heard by the court and the hearing is conducted on the basis of written evidence. This fast-track procedure applies to small claims under €3,000.
12 Trends and predictions
12.1 How would you describe the current litigation landscape and prevailing trends in your jurisdiction? Are any new developments anticipated in the next 12 months, including any proposed legislative reforms?
There has been extensive judicial reform in the past year. The new Civil Procedure Rules are expected to enter into force on 1 September 2023.
The new rules are expected to be an important tool for the protection of the rights of all stakeholders, which can be quickly adapted to the needs of modern society and lead to a modernised system of administration of justice.
Other new developments include the introduction of a new e-justice system.
13 Tips and traps
13.1 What would be your recommendations to parties facing litigation in your jurisdiction and what potential pitfalls would you highlight?
All parties in litigation proceedings should be vigilant in identifying:
- the jurisdictional gateways according to which the Cyprus court may assume jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter;
- the potential causes of action and respective chances of success;
- the potential fees and costs up until the end of the proceedings;
- the available enforcement methods; and
- the prospects of obtaining an interim injunction to preserve the status quo and to ensure that by the end of the proceedings, there will be enough funds to execute a potential judgment.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.