Civil Law And Procedures


  • Dr. Christos Clerides, LL.B (Brunel), LL.M (UCL) Ph.D (King’s College), Associate Professor of Law
    Founding Partner at Phoebus Christos Clerides & Associates LLC

Which is the Civil Law applicable in Cyprus?

Section 29 of the Courts of Justice Law, 14/60 as amended provides for the Law which shall be applied in Civil and Criminal matters by the Courts. It is provided that each Court in the exercise of its Civil or Criminal jurisdiction shall apply the following laws:

a. The Constitution of the Republic and the Laws under it.

b. The Laws already applicable on independence.

c. The Common Law and the principles of Equity unless otherwise provided by the law or the Constitution.

d. The laws relating to Evkaf. (Turkish Religious Law).

e. The laws of the UK Parliament which were applicable in Cyprus immediately prior to independence unless otherwise provided by Law or the Constitution.

In addition under Article 1A of the Constitution and 179 as amended by Law 127 (i) 2006 (Sixth Amendment) supremacy is given to EU Law and Under Article 169.3 of the Constitution International Treaties, Conventions and Agreements have a superior force of Law on the basis of reciprocity. In the case of Aziz v Cyprus (2004), The European Court of Human Rights accorded priority to the Convention over the Cyprus Constitution. It remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court will accept this in case of conflict between EU Law and The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.

Is English or Greek law applicable in Cyprus?

As it can be seen from the above, the applicable laws in Cyprus relating in civil and criminal matters are a mixture of the laws written in English prior to independence and still applicable and of laws enacted by the Republic ever since. The colonial Laws have been constitutionally preserved by virtue of Article 188 of the Constitution. These colonial laws (known as Caps i.e. Chapters) cover all aspects of Criminal and Civil matters including procedure. They cover such matters as Company Law Cap. 113, Contract Law Cap. 149, Wills and Successions Cap.195, Immovable Property Law Cap. 244,the Law of Evidence, Cap 9, Civil Law Wrongs Cap 148 , the Advocates Law, Cap 2, Criminal Procedure Cap. 155, Civil Procedure Cap. 6, Criminal law Cap. 144, and many others. In fact the bulk of the Cyprus legislation is based on this Colonial Legislation which has been only partially amended. It is no exaggeration to say that in Cyprus we continue to apply colonial laws hardly adapted to the modern day needs of society and commercial practices in many respects. Accession to the EU had a positive harmonization effect.

In the field of contract, our Contract Law Cap 149 is based on the Indian Contract Law that is the Indian Contract Act of 1872. Company Law Cap 113 is based on the English Companies Act of 1948 with amendments enacted in the field of harmonization of Cyprus Company Law with that of the European Union recently incorporated in Cyprus, but the substance of the law remains that which is applicable under the English Companies Act of 1948. Similarly until recently the law of evidence was based on principles of law on evidence applicable in England at the beginning of the 20th century. Cap 9, Section 3, provides in fact that every Court in the exercise of its civil and criminal jurisdiction applies the law of evidence which applied in England on the 5 November 1914. After many years of public debate and discussions in the House of Representatives, a Special Part was added to the law by virtue of Law 32(1)/2004. As a result the strict principles of hearsay rules were conditionally abolished. In addition to the applicable laws at the time of independence the principles of common law and equity as applied by the jurisprudence of the courts in England are applicable even today albeit in an adapted form. This provides the Cyprus Courts with the possibility of approaching resolution of disputes with a continuously progressive jurisprudence as applied in the Courts in England especially in the field of Equity. Landmark cases of the House of Lords are applied in Cyprus and the British jurisprudence is widely respected and accepted. A number of Acts of the United Kingdom which themselves were applicable to the Colonies and Cyprus immediately prior to independence date of 16 August 1960, still continue to apply. In certain fields like Family Law the applicable law is similar to the applicable Greek Family Law. In fact the reform on the basis of the 5th Constitutional Amendment introducing Civil Divorce and the Civil Marriage and the Family Courts followed the reform of Greek Family Laws, in Greece. The amendment of the Constitution was the end of a long process of an ad hoc Reform Committee for the codification and amendment of Cyprus Family Law which was established by the then Justice Minister, Phoebus Clerides in the 80s.

What are the Powers of the Courts under the Civil Procedure Law?

The Civil Procedure Law , CAP 6 , empowers a Court to do the following:

  1. To give interim relief pending an action such as inspection of the subject matter, or freezing the Disposition or alienation of Land on an ex parte application. Sections 4, 5, 7 and 9 in conjunction with Section 32 of Law 14/60 (Court of Justice Law) are widely used. The latter applies also to worldwide assets of all types.
  2. To allow service of a writ of summons outside the Republic where the cause of action for breach of contract arose in Cyprus or relates to property subject to Cyprus Law or the cause of action arose in Cyprus and it is more convenient that the matter be tried in Cyprus (See Section 3), of CAP 6.
  3. To order the taking of evidence on oath before any person in or outside Cyprus or request a Foreign Court to take such evidence (Section 8).
  4. To issue execution of judgments, Sections 10-102.


In Section 14 of the Law, the modes of execution are stipulated to be:

(a) Writ of movables

(b) Memo on or sale of immovable property

(c) Sequestration of immovable property

(d) Attachment of property

(e) Examination of judgment debtor and an order to pay by installments

(f) In addition special provision is made for the rights of guarantors.

Which are the main procedural steps for the trial of civil actions?

In Cyprus the “White Book” of 1954 and English practice are followed. Specialized Courts such as the Labor Disputes Court, the Rent Control Court, the Family Courts, have their own rules that adopt the Civil Procedure Rules to fill in gaps. In addition special rules of procedure are applicable in specific jurisdictions such as Compulsory Acquisitions or Appeals from decisions of the DLO in cases of boundary disputes etc. The District Courts by and large work on the basis of the Cyprus Civil Procedures Rule divided in Orders and Rules following the English precedent of 1954. The rules provide for the various stages before the Court as follows:

  1.  Commencement and Service of the proceedings
  2.  Pleadings
  3.  Interlocutory Matters such as third party proceedings, discovery , particulars, etc.
  4. The Trial
  5. The Appeal
  6.  Execution of Judgments

1. Commencement and Service of the proceedings

There are two ways of commencing proceedings of a civil nature in the District Court . The one is by a Writ and the other by Originating Summons. In cases where the dispute is not simply the interpretation of a document or a point of law proceedings are commenced by a Writ of Summons which can be generally or specially indorsed. Where the dispute relates simply to the construction of a document or a declaration of rights, i.e. legal issues, the procedure specified in Order 55 Rules 1 - 4 is followed . In practice most of the actions are commenced by Writ of Summons under Order 2 Rules 1 - 15. Service nowadays under the new Order 5 B is effected by private bailiffs approved by the Supreme Court of Cyprus for carrying out this type of service upon payment of a fee. In a Writ of Summons the Plaintiff may join any parties as Defendants and many Plaintiffs may also sue in the same writ under Order 9. The Defendant under Order 10 may with the leave of the Court issue and serve a third party notice on anybody from whom the Defendant claims a contribution or indemnity with respect to the matters raised by the Plaintiff in his action. Under Order 13 the Plaintiff may join different causes of actions and under order 14 the Court at any stage may order two similar actions to be consolidated. Once served the Defendant subject to any contrary directions of the court in cases of substituted a service has to enter an appearance in a specified form. If not a default judgment may be entered by default of appearance i.e the Plaintiff proves his case before the judge in the absence of the Defendant on an ex parte basis . The procedure is set down in Order 17 rules 1 -14 . Where the Writ of Summons is specially indorsed the Plaintiff may apply for summary judgment. This means that upon appearance of the Defendants the Plaintiff may apply to the Court for judgment as per the amount claimed in the Writ of Summons unless the Defendant satisfies the Court that he has a good defense to the action. This procedure for summary judgment is normally used where it is obvious on the facts of the case and the evidence that the Defendant has no real defence and has entered an appearance merely for purposes of delaying the matter. In practice if the Defendant shows that he has some reasonable defence summary judgment will not be entered and he will be allowed to file his defence.

2. Pleadings

Pleadings have been described as the rails on which the trial moves. They consist of the Statement of Claim ,whether it be on special writ of summons or filed subsequently , the Defense and Counterclaim if any and the Reply and Defense to the Counterclaim. No subsequent pleadings are allowed unless ordered by the Court. In the Statement of Claim the Plaintiff sets out in a summary form the facts of the case on which he intends to rely upon in order to prove his cause of action. Evidence is never pleaded.

3. Interlocutory matters

The defendant may make a payment into Court under Order 22, in satisfaction of one or more claims. The plaintiff may accept this or may turn it down at the risk of been penalized with the extra costs incurred. Discovery and inspection is a procedure more frequently used nowadays than in the past. Any party may after pleadings have closed apply for an order of the Court that the other party to the proceedings makes upon oath discovery i.e an Affidavit disclosing all the documents relevant to the case in his possession that will be used as evidence during trial. In addition the Court may order inspection of these documents and the supply of copies thereof. After the closure of the pleadings the plaintiff may apply for a date of trial to be fixed under Order 31 or if he fails to do that the defendant may do so. In addition after closure of the pleadings a party may take out what is known as a Summons for Directions. Order 48 is a very important procedural rule very commonly used in practice. It provides for the form of applications by summons or ex parte for all interlocutory matters and also specifies in which cases an application has to be accompanied by an affidavit and in which cases it may be made under the rules on an ex parte basis. In most cases application is made by summons but in a limited number of cases specified in O. 48 r8 applications may be made ex parte e.g. for leave to serve outside jurisdiction. Also in most cases applications have to be accompanied by an affidavit. It is well to remember that ex parte applications may also be made where there are peculiar circumstances or where the matter is deemed urgent under the provisions of Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Law Cap

6. In fact almost in all cases where an application is made ex parte reliance is placed on this section. Applications by summons or ex parte rely on affidavit evidence with the right to cross examine if allowed by the Court.

4. The Trial

Order 33 provides for the procedure to be followed at trial. The procedure is simple in the sense that normally the plaintiff will open his case and adduce his evidence i.e call his witnesses. When he completes his case the defendant is called upon to call for any evidence that he may intend to produce i.e his own witnesses. The normal rule is that the party who has called the last witness will normally address the Court first and then the other party normally the plaintiff will reply. Once this procedure is completed the Court will deliver judgment either ex-tempore or it can reserve it for a future date .Special provisions is made for cases where either one of the parties does not appear on the date fixed for trial. Normally if it will be a plaintiff the claim will be dismissed or adjourned, subject to reinstatement on equitable grounds. If it will be the defendant the Plaintiff may proceed to prove his case subject to setting aside. If there is a counterclaim the court may decide to hear the counterclaim in the context of the plaintiffs and defendants case or may opt to hear first the plaintiff and the defendant and then hear the defendant on the counterclaim and the plaintiff on his defense to the Counterclaim. The way the evidence is given in court is by calling witnesses who take the oath. Then a witness is first examined by questions and answers by the lawyer of the party calling him. He is then subject to cross examination by the other party and finally there is a right of re examination by the party calling the witness for matters that need clarification after cross examination. In some cases a special procedure may be followed under which a witness is summoned not to give evidence on oath but merely without being sworn to produce documents in his possession, under a witness summons duces tecum.

5. Appeals

Order 35 governs questions of appeals. The procedure is also governed by the Appeals Procedure Rules of 1996.There is a right of appeal against a final judgment or an interlocutory Order. Appeals against final judgment must be filed within 42 days and against an interlocutory order within 14 days. In the notice of appeal the appellant must file each ground of appeal separately and give separately there under the reasoning of each ground of appeal. A respondent may cross appeal within 30 days of service of the notice of appeal. The Appeal Court has power to hear a new evidence something which is rarely done or to decide the way it “feels” judicially of course in order to administer justice. The Court of Appeal rarely interferes with the conclusions of the Trial Court on questions of credibility or the exercise of discretion in one way or the other. It will not hesitate to interfere where there is a wrong application or interpretation for the law. The Court of Appeal, nowadays the Supreme Court of Cyprus, in exercising its appellate jurisdiction has all the powers of the trial court. Including the power to stay execution of the judgment or proceeding there under pending the Appeal. After an Appeal is filed the Appeal is set down for Directions which include the exchange of skeleton argument between Appellant and the Respondent within a time frame of 45 days each. On the Hearing date each party has 30 minutes before the Appeal Court to further argue his client’s case

6. Execution

Order 40 provides for execution in general. We have seen above the methods of execution of judgments under the Civil Procedure Laws Cap 6. The civil procedure rules Order 40-Order 47 provide for the details of the procedure and the way of effecting execution under a writ of movables or writ for the seizure and sale of movable property or for the issue of a writ of sale of immovable property. Provision is also made under Order 42A as we have seen for attachment and sequestration i.e contempt proceedings In addition special provision is made for a writ of possession of immovable property and for a writ of delivery of movable property and in Order 44 the power and duties of the Bailiffs entrusted with execution are specified in detail.




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