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Property Litigation

The legal system in Cyprus followed English law until 1960 when Cyprus gained its independence. Since then, it has remained modelled on the English system with the exception that the Cyprus Constitution which was enacted in 1960 remains above every other law enacted.

Following the acceptance of Cyprus’ application to join the European Union and our accession in 2004, Cyprus has been harmonising its laws and regulations in order to be in line with European Laws, Directives and Regulation. As a result of this, European law is above all Cyprus laws, including the Cyprus Constitution.

In order for a case to be filed in Cyprus, the courts of Cyprus firstly must be considered the proper forum to hear the case and they must have jurisdiction to hear the facts of the case. As to whether Cyprus is the correct forum to hear a case this will depend on the specific circumstances of each case.

Once the jurisdiction issue has been examined, an action may be filed and served on the Defendant. If the Defendant however is not a permanent resident of Cyprus, before the filing of the action, an application must be filed and leave must be given by the courts to seal the action and once leave is given and the action is filed, an application is then filed for the service of the action outside the jurisdiction of the courts.

Once the action has been served on the Defendant, he has to file an appearance in the relevant court with a lawyer within 10 (ten) days of the action being served and within 14 (fourteen) days of filing the note of appearance he has to file his statement of defence to the action and he may file a counter-claim to the action if he so wishes. The time limit as to filing the statement of defence can be extended further than the initial 14 (fourteen) day period.

Once the pleadings have been completed, the case can be set for directions before the judge that will ultimately hear the case in an attempt to discuss the case between the lawyers acting for both sides and in order to try and limit the issues to be heard by the court in case a settlement cannot be reached.

There is no jury system in Cyprus so a case is heard by a judge who hears all the witnesses and based on the testimony brought before him and the witnesses he has heard, he will issue a decision. This decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court of Cyprus by the losing party and no special leave is necessary for the filing of an appeal with the exception of an appeal against an order as to costs for which special permission has to be given by the trial judge.

In relation to the costs of litigation, these are usually recoverable from the other party. The normal rule is that a successful litigant is awarded an order for costs to be paid by the other side. The lawyer for the successful litigant will file his bill of costs with the Registrar of the Court who then has an obligation to tax the costs. This rule however may not be applied by the court in part or in whole if the conduct of the successful litigant is regarded as such that it deserves the censure of disentitlement to costs.