Use the Lexology Navigator tool to compare the answers in this article with those from other jurisdictions.    

Conditions for recognition and enforcement

Enforceable judgments

Which types of judgment (eg, monetary judgments, mandatory or prohibitory orders) are enforceable in your jurisdiction and which (if any) are explicitly excluded from recognition and enforcement (eg, default judgments, judgments granting punitive damages)?

All types of EU judgment (including but not limited to decrees, orders – whether interim or permanent – decisions or writs of execution) issued by an EU member state court or tribunal are enforceable within Cyprus pursuant to the relevant EU regulations.

Whether the same will apply for non-EU judgments – the recognition and enforcement of which is governed by the Foreign Judgments Law and the relevant bilateral treaty between Cyprus and a third country – will depend on the enforceability of the judgment at hand in the jurisdiction of the court of origin and the relevant bilateral treaty between that country and Cyprus.

Some types of foreign judgment (eg, declaratory judgments) are incapable of enforcement; thus, the judgment creditor need only pursue their recognition in Cyprus.

How are foreign judgments subject to appeal treated?

Recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments subject to appeal or already under appeal may still be pursued as long as they are final and conclusive, except where the court of origin has stayed execution for any period, either pending an appeal or for any other reason.

Formal requirements

What are the formal and documentary requirements for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

The extent of the documentary requirements which must be met by the judgment creditor to enable the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment in Cyprus will ultimately depend on the enforcement regime applicable to the foreign judgment at hand. In general, however, the judgment creditor must be able to provide the Cypriot enforcing courts with the following documentation:

  • a complete, certified copy of the foreign judgment;
  • if the foreign judgment was rendered by default, the originals or true copies of the documents required to establish that the summons was duly served on the judgment debtor;
  • all documents required to establish that the foreign judgment is no longer subject to ordinary forms of review in the country of origin and, where appropriate, that the judgment is enforceable in the country of origin, unless this is indicated in the judgment itself; and
  • unless otherwise provided for in a convention or treaty between Cyprus and a third country, all documents referred to above must be accompanied by a certified translation into Greek or, where expressly provided, into English.

Additional documentation may be required where the terms of the judgment do not permit verification of the conditions with which the judgment debtor must comply under the foreign judgment.

As regards EU judgments falling under the ambit of the Brussels Regulation (44/2001) or Brussels Recast Regulation (1215/2012) in particular, the judgment creditor must be in a position to produce a certificate of authenticity for the judgment, issued by the court of origin, and a declaration of enforceability from the court of origin (in the case of the Brussels Regulation) or the standard certificate issued by the court of origin pursuant to the applicable regulation (Article 53 of the Brussels Recast Regulation).

As regards EU judgments falling under the ambit of the European Enforcement Order Regulation in particular, the judgment creditor must be in a position to provide the European enforcement order issued by the competent authority in the country of origin.

Substantive requirements

What substantive requirements (if any) apply to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments? Are enforcing courts in your jurisdiction permitted to review the foreign judgment on the merits?

In general, and subject to the specific legal regime applicable in each case, a foreign judgment will be recognised and enforced in the following situations:

  • The judgment was given by a court having jurisdiction to entertain the underlying claim under the legal regime applicable to that claim, provided that the case was not within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Cyprus courts.
  • The Cyprus courts have jurisdiction over the judgment debtor.
  • The judgment is final and conclusive in that it is no longer subject to ordinary forms of review before the courts in the state of origin.
  • The judgment is enforceable in the state of origin by way of execution.
  • The judgment was not obtained by fraud.
  • Recognition or enforcement of the judgment would not be contrary to the public policy of Cyprus or the fundamental principles of any Cyprus law.
  • Recognition or enforcement of the judgment would not prejudice the sovereignty or security of the state of origin.
  • There is no conflicting Cypriot judgment issued in proceedings between the same parties, based on the same subject matter.
  • In the case of a judgment rendered in default, if the judgment creditor can prove that the defaulting party received, under the law of the state of origin, sufficient notice that proceedings had been commenced against them, both in terms of form and time.

The Cyprus courts will not review or revisit the merits of a foreign judgment. When examining an application for the recognition of a foreign judgment under the European regime, the enforcing court makes a presumption that the foreign judgment has met all prerequisites for recognition in Cyprus and is thus limited to confirming that no grounds on which recognition could be refused exist. 

Limitation period

What is the limitation period for enforcement of a foreign judgment?

The domestic legislation and relevant regulations provide no limitation period over applications for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, except for actions to enforce a foreign judgment at common law which, pursuant to the Limitation of Actionable Rights Law of 2012 (Law 66(I)/2012), become statute barred 15 years from the date on which the judgment became final (time begins to run as of January 1 2016 for all foreign judgments issued before December 31 2015).

Grounds for refusal

On what grounds can recognition and enforcement be refused?

The Cyprus courts may refuse to recognise and enforce a foreign judgment on a number of grounds – namely, findings that:

  • the foreign judgment is manifestly contrary to the public policy of Cyprus;
  • there was a lack of jurisdiction (both in relation to the court of origin and the Cyprus courts as enforcing courts); and
  • the judgment debtor was improperly notified of the proceedings that resulted in the foreign judgment and the existence of irreconcilable judgments on the same subject matter between the same parties in Cyprus or, where applicable, other EU member states or non-EU countries.

While additional grounds for refusal may be open to the courts depending on the legal framework applicable to the recognition and enforcement proceedings at hand, under no legal framework will the Cyprus courts refuse to recognise and enforce a judgment on the basis of a merits-based analysis going into the substance of the foreign judgment. 

Service of process

To what extent does the enforcing court review the service of process in the original foreign proceedings?

Where the judgment creditor obtained the foreign judgment because the judgment debtor failed to appear, the enforcing court will review the service of process in the original foreign proceedings with a view to establishing whether the judgment debtor:

  • received sufficient notice of the foreign proceedings in accordance with the law of the state of origin and within in a sufficient timeframe to enable him or her to defend the proceedings; and
  • in case of incapacity to plead, was properly represented.

In this case, in addition to a duly certified Greek translation of the foreign judgment, the judgment creditor must produce, by way of evidence in the affidavit accompanying the recognition and enforcement application:

  • an original or certified true copy of the notice of service of the summons or equivalent document in relation to the foreign proceedings on the judgment debtor; and
  • any other evidence required to demonstrate proof of service under the law of the state of origin.

In all other cases, a review of the service of process may be required depending on the applicable legal framework.

Public policy

What public policy issues are considered in the court’s decision to grant recognition and enforcement? Is there any notable case law in this regard?

Foreign judgments which are deemed by the Cyprus courts as being manifestly contrary to public policy will not be recognised; this holds true regardless of the legal regime applicable to the recognition and enforcement proceedings (as regards EU judgments, see Article 34 of the Brussels Regulation and the Lugano Convention and Article 45 of the Brussels Recast Regulation).

The outer boundaries of public policy are not set in stone, fluctuating instead in accordance with changing moral and socio-economic conditions relevant to a specific period. This is mirrored in the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, which the Cyprus courts may use as guidance in the absence of a statutory definition.

In Attorney General of the Republic of Kenya v Wirtschaft AG ((1999) 1A CLR 585) the Supreme Court defined ‘public policy’ as encompassing “the fundamental values which a society recognizes in a specific time period, as those values which govern the transactions and other perspectives of its members, with which the established legal order is imbued”.

The definition of ‘public policy’ is wide enough to enable the Cyprus courts to refuse to recognise foreign judgments where they have been obtained:

  • by fraud;
  • in breach of fundamental human rights of the parties, including those entrenched in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights; or
  • where such judgments are irreconcilable with judgments handed down by the Cyprus courts in proceedings between the same parties and on the same facts (in light of a manifest breach of the res judicata principle).

Jurisdiction

What is the extent of the enforcing court’s power to review the personal and subject-matter jurisdiction of the foreign court that issued the judgment?

The extent to which the Cyprus courts, in their role as enforcing courts, may review the subject-matter jurisdiction of the court of origin will depend on the legal framework governing the recognition and enforcement proceedings at hand and, in particular, will vary in accordance with the applicable bilateral or multilateral treaty or EU regulation.

As regards the courts’ power to review the personal jurisdiction of the court of origin over the judgment debtor:

  • In the case of foreign judgments governed by the Brussels Regulation or the Brussels Recast Regulation, the courts will not review the personal jurisdiction of the court of origin, save for the limited range of matters provided in Article 35 of the Brussels Regulation and Article 45(1)(e) of the Brussels Recast Regulation – namely, insurance, consumer contracts and employment contracts or areas of exclusive jurisdiction under the regulation. Foreign judgments which the courts deem to conflict with the above provisions will not be recognised.
  • In the case of foreign judgments governed by Law 121(I)/2000, common law or the Certain Judgments of Courts of Commonwealth Countries (Reciprocal Enforcement) Law, the Cyprus courts may review the jurisdiction of the court of origin on the basis of the conflicts of law rules recognised under private international law which apply in Cyprus and will avoid finding that the court of origin lacked jurisdiction to issue the foreign judgment – in particular where:
    • the judgment debtor agreed to submit or had submitted to the jurisdiction of the court of origin in the context of the original proceedings;
    • the judgment debtor filed a claim or counterclaim in the original proceedings;
    • the judgment debtor:
      • was domiciled in the country of the court of origin;
      • had its principal place of business there at the time the original proceedings were instituted; or
      • maintained a branch or place of business in the country to which the proceedings were connected (eg, a transaction forming the subject matter of the original proceedings had been effected by that branch or office);
    • immovable property forming the subject matter of the original proceedings was situated in the country of origin; or
    • in the case of proceedings other than the above, where the jurisdiction of the court of origin is recognised under Cyprus law.

Conversely, the Cyprus courts will find that the court of origin lacked jurisdiction where:

  • the subject matter of the foreign judgment was immovable property located in a jurisdiction other than the court of origin;
  • the original proceedings before the court of origin were filed in breach of a dispute resolution agreement, pursuant to which disputes between the judgment debtor and the judgment creditor were to be resolved by a court other than the court of origin, except where the judgment debtor:
    • voluntarily submitted or agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of the court of origin for reasons other than to obtain protection or release of the property forming part of the original proceedings;
    • filed a claim or counterclaim in the original proceedings; or
    • was entitled to immunity from suit in the jurisdiction of the court of origin, pursuant to international public law.

Concurrent proceedings and conflicting judgments

How do the courts in your jurisdiction address applications for recognition and enforcement where there are concurrent proceedings (foreign or domestic) or conflicting judgments involving the same parties/dispute?

The recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment which conflicts with a judgment issued in a dispute between the same parties on the same cause of action may be challenged under any of the enforcement regimes mentioned in this document.

In the case of recognition and enforcement proceedings governed specifically by the Brussels Regulation or the Brussels Recast Regulation, the Cyprus courts will, in addition to the above, refuse to recognise a foreign judgment which is irreconcilable with an earlier judgment given in Cyprus, another EU member state or a non-EU member state between the same parties and involving the same cause of action (Articles 34(3) and (4) of the Brussels Regulation and Articles 45(1)(c) and (d) of the Brussels Recast Regulation).

In the case of recognition and enforcement proceedings governed by common law or statute, the courts will refuse recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment if there is a conflicting Cypriot judgment on the same cause of action and between the same parties (on public policy grounds under a breach of the principle of res judicata).

Neither Cypriot nor pending foreign proceedings between the same parties over the same cause of action will hinder the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment under any of the enforcement regimes mentioned in this document.

However, recognition and enforcement proceedings in relation to a foreign judgment may be stayed (either partially or completely) by the courts where the pending foreign proceedings are an appeal of the foreign judgment in the court of origin or, where a finding is made that the time for an appeal has not yet expired. 

Click here to view the full article.