Responding to the claim

Early steps available

What steps are open to a defendant in the early part of a case?

Where a defendant wishes to dispute the service made upon him or her or the order authorising such service, he or she may file a conditional appearance together with a set aside application. Alternatively, a regular appearance may be filed followed by a defence statement. Depending on the circumstances, points of law can be raised in the defence that may be heard at a preliminary stage. The defence can also include a counterclaim against the claimant. In appropriate circumstances, a defendant may also bring a claim against a co-defendant or a person not already a party to the action by following the third-party or co-defendant procedure.

Defence structure

How are defences structured, and must they be served within any time limits? What documents need to be appended to the defence?

Where a defendant has entered an appearance, he or she must file and deliver his or her defence within 14 days of the time limit for appearance or from the delivery of the statement of claim, whichever shall be the later, unless an extension is provided by the court. In his or her defence, the defendant must state which of the allegations in the statement of claim he or she denies, which allegations he or she is unable to admit or deny but which he or she requires the claimant to prove, and which allegations he or she admits. Where an allegation is denied, the defendant must state his or her reasons for doing so, and if he or she intends to put forward a different version of events, he or she must state his or her own version. As with the rest of the pleadings, a defence should only contain a summary of the material facts relied on and the allegations made, and not law, evidence or argument. No documents can be appended to the defence.

Changing defence

Under what circumstances may a defendant change a defence at a later stage in the proceedings?

A defence may be amended without the court’s leave at any time before issuing the summons for directions (which must be issued within 90 days of the closing of the pleadings). Following the summons for directions, no amendment can be made unless it aims to correct an inadvertent, bona fide mistake made at the time of drafting or where new facts have emerged that were not in existence at the time of filing.

Sharing liability

How can a defendant establish the passing on or sharing of liability?

Where a defendant wishes to claim that liability has passed on to another party or that he or she is entitled toa contribution or indemnity by another party, he or she may bring a claim against that party within the same action by following the third-party or co-defendant procedure. A claim brought by the defendant against another party may be heard and determined together with the claimant’s claim, and all parties will have the same rights and obligations in respect of their claims and defences.

Avoiding trial

How can a defendant avoid trial?

As explained in question 23, a defendant may raise points of law that may be heard at a preliminary stage, for example res judicata, abuse of process or absence of jurisdiction, or that the statement of claim discloses no reasonable cause of action. If any of these preliminary objections succeeds, the court may order the action to be stayed or dismissed without a trial on the merits.

Case of no defence

What happens in the case of a no-show or if no defence is offered?

Failure of the defendant to enter an appearance or to file a defence to a writ of summons entitles the plaintiff to apply for judgment in default.

Claiming security

Can a defendant claim security for costs? If so, what form of security can be provided?

Yes. The court may make an order for security for costs where the claimant is ordinarily resident outside of the European Union and if it is satisfied that it is just to make such an order. The court will have regard to all the relevant circumstances of the case and, in particular, whether the claimant owns property in Cyprus, the strength of the claimant’s case, whether the application is made in order to stifle a genuine claim or whether it will have this effect irrespective of the defendant’s motive, and the claimant’s ability to provide the security for costs. Ordinarily, the amount to be given for security for costs is the amount that under normal circumstances is likely to be incurred by the party applying for such order, and it may take the form of a bank guarantee or payment into court.