To further develop and reinforce Cyprus as a reputable business and maritime center, but also working towards the general objective of a faster and more efficient resolution of disputes in Cyprus, a new law was published in June of 2022 within the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cyprus, establishing two new Courts: A Commercial Court and an Admiralty Court.
The provisions of "The Establishment and Cooperation of a Commercial Court and Admiralty Court Law of 2022 (69(I)/2022)" regarding the new Admiralty Court, shall enter into force on the date of publication of a notification by the Supreme Court in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cyprus.
Until the entering into force of the new law - which contemplates for the creation of a specialized Admiralty Court in Cyprus - the Supreme Court of Cyprus will maintain its exclusive jurisdiction to act as an Admiralty Court (of first instance and as a court of appeal) and the district courts will also maintain their limited and based on referral (by the Supreme Court) jurisdiction on maritime claims under specific circumstances.
The Supreme Court of Cyprus has jurisdiction over a wide range of maritime matters, including but not limited to the following claims:
- Relating to the possession or ownership of a vessel or to the ownership of any share therein;
- Arising between the co-owners of a vessel regarding its possession, employment, or earnings of the vessel;
- For loss of life or personal injury under certain circumstances and conditions;
- For damage caused by a vessel;
- For damage done to a vessel;
- Arising from an agreement with regards to the carriage of goods on a vessel, or the use or the hire of a vessel;
- For loss or damage to goods carried on a vessel;
- By a Master or any member of the crew relating to wages;
- For salvage, general average, towage and pilotage;
- By a Master, shipper, charterer, or an agent as regards any expenses/disbursements whatsoever, conducted on account of a vessel.
What is the Process for Arresting a Ship in Cyprus?
The Supreme Court's Admiralty Jurisdiction can be invoked both by the filing of an action in rem and by an action in personam. However, the filing of an action in rem against the ship is a precondition if the plaintiff intends to pursue its arrest.
Moreover, the plaintiff's claim must fall under one or more of the claims defined in Section 1(1) of the Administration of Justice Act of 1956. These questions or claims fall under the Admiralty Court's jurisdiction and can be heard and determined by the latter. The Cyprus Admiralty Jurisdiction Order 1893 ('The Rules') regulates the arrest proceedings of a ship.
A warrant for the arrest of a ship can be issued even if the ship is not within the jurisdiction of the Court. However, it can be executed only when the ship calls at a Cyprus port. Rule 50 of the Cyprus Admiralty Jurisdiction Order 1893 provides that in an action in rem, the Plaintiff may at the time of, or at any time after, the issue of the writ of summons apply to the Court or Judge for the issue of a warrant for the arrest of the property. To this end, the Plaintiff must file an ex-parte application which must be supported by an affidavit, providing detailed information about the maritime claim.
If the Court is satisfied that there is a serious matter for trial and that the Plaintiff is entitled to the arrest, then upon the fulfilment of certain conditions and requirements, an order for arrest will be issued.
The aforesaid conditions and requirements include:
- The Plaintiff must lodge a deposit which will cover the expenses that may be incurred by the Admiralty Marshal with regards to the custody and supervision of the ship while under arrest;
- The Plaintiff must lodge any other amount of money required by the Registrar with regards to the expenses incurred by the arrest;
- The Plaintiff must post a security bond usually by way of a Cyprus bank guarantee.
Once issued by the Court, the arrest warrant shall be served to the ship's master or agent according to the Rules as to the service, notifying them of the arrest and reasons for it. The release of the vessel may be achieved by the Defendant, upon providing the amount of security stated in the order of arrest, usually in the form of a cash deposit or a bank guarantee.
Overall, arresting a ship in Cyprus is a legal process that must be done in accordance with applicable laws and procedures. Parties involved in a ship arrest are advised to seek legal advice and assistance to ensure that their rights and interests are protected.
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.