The majority of cases we handle is of a civil nature and includes many high value commercial cases, both domestic and international. Our specialized lawyers provide a word-class legal service based on Quality and Integrity. Amongst other, cases we handle involve:
• Contractual claims
• Securities and finance
• Fraud and asset tracing
• Building & Construction
• Trust disputes
• Corporate Disputes
• Estates & Administration
• Matrimonial and family matters
• Medical negligence claims and malpractice
• Commercial Disputes
Cyprus Legal System
Litigation is the main form of dispute resolution in Cyprus. It is referred to as Civil Litigation when the litigation takes place under the civil jurisdiction of the Court and not the administrative or criminal jurisdiction.
The Cyprus Legal System is an adversarial system based on English Common Law (with some exceptions, such as family law matters). In an adversarial system, in contrast to the inquisitorial system or investigative system, parties plead their case towards the judge who has the role of deciding on what is being put forward to him. It is the system followed in the common law countries.
In a common-law system, principles of law derive not only from statutes (laws) passed from the Parliament but also from previous cases developed through time and Courts need to follow and apply those principles on the specific facts in front of them. In fact the Courts may extend some of the principles and this adds to the flexible nature of the Court system. Due to the Courts being bound to follow previous decisions on similar facts and apply the same legal principles, there is reasonable guidance on how most issues will be resolved, adding to the ability to predict the outcome of a case. The flexibility of the legal system and its predictive value favours commerce and economies.
The Court Procedure typically starts with the filing of the Writ of Summons, which states the relief sought. Together with the Writ of Summons or within 10 days after its filing, the Particulars of Claim must be filed, which state the nature and details of the claim.
More exceptionally the process may start by filing an Originating Summons instead of a Writ of Summons, where for example certain applications are made under the Companies Act Cap.113 or for declaratory orders.
It is crucial for the process that the Defendant is properly served with the Court Documents. Service of Process is regulated by the Court Procedure Rules. Where the Defendant is abroad leave must be obtained by the Court before allowing the service of Court documents to the Defendant. For service in the EU, the EU Directive 1393/2007 provides for the proper procedure. For third Countries, outside the EU, the provisions for service are to be found within Cyprus agreements with those Countries as well as Domestic Legislation.
After Service of the Process the Defendant/s must file an appearance and a defence, or risk the Claimant/s, obtaining a judgment for the lack of the Defendant/s doing so. The Defendant may file a counter-claim together with the defence. After the Defence is filed, the Court sets the case for Directions as to how it is to proceed, and this is usually the stage where parties must make disclosure of the documents they will rely in the hearing of the case. After the Directions stage, the case is set for hearing, which is the stage where the parties call their witnesses to be examined and cross-examined by the other party. After the hearing is finished the Court will give its decision, which may be subject to an appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Cypriot Courts may issue a variety of injunctions such as:
• Freezing Injunctions
• Disclosure Orders
• Anti-Suit Injunctions
• Anton Piller Orders
A freezing injunction is an injunction freezing assets of the Defendant due to the risk of his assets being dissipated with the purpose of defeating the effect of a judgment. The court will usually order the applicant to give a guarantee for damages that may occur to the Defendant by the issuance of an inappropriate injunction.
A disclosure order may be made against a defendant or a bank to disclose the Defendant's assets and accounts. An Anti-Suit injunction is an injunction prohibiting the Defendant from suing in another jurisdiction. Anti-Suit injunctions have been the subject of extensive controversy in relation to cross-claims in the EU. An Anton Piller Order (commonly referred to as a search order) is an order made against a party to allow the other party to enter his/her premises and search for documents important for the trial that risk to be destroyed.
These are only some of the basic injunctions to be issued and there can be other injunctions issued, such as orders prohibiting publication of private and sensitive information or orders prohibiting the conduct of a certain act such as the sale of shares or land.
The procedure for obtaining injunctions is conducted in two stages. In the first stage, an order is made ex-parte, which means without the other party being present. If the injunction application is very urgent it may be heard and decided the same day. The judge may issue the injunction and require the order to be served to the other party so it can contest it or decline to issue it and require it to be issued, if there is no danger from informing the other party or there are not strong grounds of issuing it.
A decision to grant (or decline to grant) an injunction may be the subject of appeal.
Injunctions may also be categorized as interim measures. Other interim measures may include applications for a summary judgment or to strike out a claim. An application for a summary judgment requires the clearest of all cases showing that the defendant has no defence to the case. An order for strike-out refers to striking out the claim of the Claimant (or a counter-claim by the Defendant) as being an abuse of process of the Court or showing no reasonable cause of action or being "vexatious and oppressive". Such orders are exceptionally given as they may affect the right of parties to a fair trial.
International Commercial Litigation
Litigation with an international element is very frequently brought upon Courts in Cyprus. The first step in every dispute with an international element is to decide upon the most favourable jurisdiction to conduct the case and to establish jurisdiction in that place. In many cases, when jurisdiction is established, the parties settle their differences based on the predictability of the outcome. Other tactical considerations are taken into account such as the time it will take to decide the dispute and whether interim orders may be issued. For example the ability to issue a freezing order and then have the case tried in four years may be a significant tactical consideration for parties in commercial litigation.
The set of rules for deciding jurisdiction differ when there is a dispute with an EU domiciled defendant or not. When there is an EU domiciled defendant, the effective rules are provided for by the Brussels I Regulation 44/2001. When the claim is against a non-EU domiciled defendant, the rules that apply are the common law rules of forum-conveniens which provide for a basis of jurisdiction and also require that the Cypriot Courts are the most appropriate forum (considering mainly the cost-effectiveness of the trial and ensuring a fair trial).
The ability of the Cyprus Courts to issue injunctions is a very strong weapon in international disputes.
An order obtained by a Court in Cyprus may be enforced anywhere in the EU without any special procedure and in most places worldwide.
Contempt of Court
Contempt of Court, refers to a party in the proceedings disobeying the orders of the Court or disregarding the procedure of the Court and extends to parties that are not parties in the proceedings helping a party in the proceedings to do so. A court finding someone in Contempt may direct the imprisonment of such person, impose a fine or not allow the person to defend himself/herself in the proceedings.
For more information please contact us.