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General framework

Domestic law

Which domestic laws and regulations govern the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?

The domestic legislation on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are:

  • the Foreign Courts Judgments (Recognition, Registration and Enforcement) Law (121(I)/2000), which enables judgment creditors to pursue recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments governed by any of the bilateral or multilateral treaties and conventions between Cyprus and third (non-EU) countries; and
  • the Certain Judgments of Courts of Commonwealth Countries (Reciprocal Enforcement) Law, which is based on the English Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933 and may be used by judgment creditors having obtained judgments by the superior courts of the United Kingdom.

Whether recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment is to be pursued on the basis of the relevant domestic legislation, the supranational EU framework or the international conventions or bilateral treaties cited elsewhere in this document largely depends on the location of the courts of origin.

International conventions

Which international conventions and bilateral treaties relating to the recognition and enforcement of judgments apply in your jurisdiction?

Foreign judgments originating from the courts of EU member states may be recognised and enforced in Cyprus pursuant to the relevant EU regulations in force, depending on their context. The Brussels Recast Regulation (1215/2012) applies to EU judgments issued on or after January 10 2015 and remains – along with its predecessor the Brussels Regulation (44/2001), which applies to EU judgments issued before January 10 2015 – particularly relevant in this respect, alongside the European Enforcement Order Regulation (805/2004), which provides a streamlined enforcement procedure for uncontested claims.

Foreign judgments originating from Switzerland, Norway and Iceland may be recognised and enforced pursuant to the framework provided under the Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters of October 30 2007.

Notably, before its accession to the European Union, Cyprus had signed bilateral treaties (which remain in force) on, among other things, the recognition and enforcement of court judgments with Greece, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia.

Foreign judgments not originating from EU member state courts may be recognised and enforced in Cyprus pursuant to the framework provided under the Foreign Court Judgments Law and the relevant bilateral treaties concluded between Cyprus and third countries – namely, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, Georgia, Russia, Serbia, Syria and Ukraine.

Competent courts

Which courts are competent to hear cases on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

The judgment creditor may have the foreign judgment registered either:

  • in the court of the district in which the judgment debtor resides or carries on his or her profession; or
  • if the subject matter of a judgment is immovable property in Cyprus, in the court of the district where that property is situated.

Distinction between recognition and enforcement

Is there a legal distinction between the recognition and enforcement of a judgment?

Recognition and enforcement are legally distinct in the sense that, depending on the legal framework governing a particular foreign judgment:

  • recognition is usually a prerequisite for enforcement (ie, a foreign judgment will attain the status of a Cypriot judgment only after recognition);
  • the procedural requirements for recognition and enforcement differ; and
  • not all judgments which are recognised can or must be enforced.

In the case of foreign judgments falling within the ambit of either the Brussels Regulation or the Brussels Recast Regulation, the judgment creditor must, as a first step, apply to have the judgment recognised in Cyprus before either seeking a declaration of enforceability in Cyprus (Brussels Regulation) or proceeding with the appropriate measures of execution (Brussels Recast Regulation).

In the case of foreign judgments falling within the ambit of any of the above-mentioned bilateral treaties between Cyprus and third (non-EU) countries, recognition may or may not be a prerequisite and enforcement may be achievable automatically. 

Ease of enforcement

In general, how easy is it to secure recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?

This is, again, ultimately depends on:

  • the subject matter of the foreign judgment to be registered and enforced;
  • the legal framework governing recognition and enforcement of the particular judgment; and
  • by extension, of course, the strength of any defences raised by the judgment debtor.

In general, however, as the procedure to be followed in registering and enforcing a foreign judgment – whether this is an EU or a non-EU judgment – is clearly elucidated in all of the legal regimes potentially applicable to the proceedings, securing recognition and enforcement will be easy where the judgment creditor has clearly met the relevant formal and substantive requirements applicable to the foreign judgment at hand.

However, this may not be so where the judgment creditor has to face potentially problematic issues of substance, such as a conflicting local judgment on the same or similar subject matter between different parties, the recognition and enforcement of which may be refused by the courts on grounds of public policy.

Reform

Are any reforms to the framework on recognition and enforcement of judgments envisioned or underway?

No reforms to the Cypriot recognition and enforcement framework are envisioned or underway. Time will tell whether a reform of the Certain Judgments of Courts of Commonwealth Countries (Reciprocal Enforcement) Law (which governs the recognition and enforcement of judgments issued by superior courts of the United Kingdom) may be required, depending on the mechanics of the Brexit process.

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. 

Opposition

Defences

What defences are available to the losing party to a foreign judgment that is sought to be recognised and enforced in your jurisdiction?

The range of defences available to the judgment debtor in the context of recognition and enforcement proceedings for a foreign judgment depend on the nature and subject matter of the judgment at hand and the legal regime applicable to the recognition and enforcement proceedings.

EU judgments The defences open to the judgment debtor are set out in Articles 34 and 35 of the Brussels Regulation (44/2001) (applicable to foreign judgments sought to be enforced before January 10 2015) and the Lugano Convention and Article 45 of the Brussels Recast Regulation (1215/2012) (applicable to foreign judgments sought to be enforced on or after January 10 2015).

As per Articles 45(1)(a) to (e) of the Brussels Recast Regulation, a judgment debtor may raise the following defences against the recognition of a foreign judgment and, if successful, the Cyprus courts will refuse recognition:

  • The foreign judgment is manifestly contrary to the public policy of Cyprus.
  • The foreign judgment was given in default of an appearance by the judgment debtor and the judgment debtor had not been served with the relevant court documents indicating the commencement of the proceedings pursuant to which the foreign judgment was made in a sufficient timeframe to prepare and arrange a defence, except where it is demonstrated that the judgment debtor failed to commence proceedings to challenge the default judgment.
  • The foreign judgment is irreconcilable with an earlier judgment given in a dispute between the same parties in relation to the same cause of action in Cyprus, or an earlier judgment given by the courts of another EU member state or third country, provided that the judgment meets the prerequisites for recognition in Cyprus.
  • The foreign judgment conflicts with Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 of Chapter II of the Brussels Recast Regulation, which regulates the jurisdiction of member state courts over matters relating to insurance, consumer contracts and employment contracts and outlines areas of exclusive jurisdiction.

As regards foreign judgments falling within the ambit of the Certain Judgments of Courts of Commonwealth Countries (Reciprocal Enforcement) Law, the Cyprus courts may similarly refuse recognition and enforcement on grounds of:

  • public policy;
  • lack of jurisdiction;
  • lack of proper notice of the proceedings which resulted in the foreign judgment to the judgment debtor; and
  • the existence of a final and conclusive judgment by another court (other than the court of origin) which had jurisdiction to hear the dispute.

Non-EU judgments The grounds on which the judgment debtor may rely to contest recognition proceedings filed on the basis of the Foreign Judgments Law or a bilateral treaty with a third party are limited to:

  • issues regarding the jurisdiction of the court;
  • the proven satisfaction of the foreign judgment; and
  • the judgment creditor’s failure to meet any other conditions laid down in the convention or bilateral treaty.

Common law Whether foreign judgments will be recognised or enforced when recognition or enforcement is pursued under common law will be a matter of discretion for the Cyprus courts, based on the facts of each case. The grounds on which a refusal to recognise or enforce a particular foreign judgment may be based mirror those examined by the courts under the Certain Judgments of Courts of Commonwealth Countries (Reciprocal Enforcement) Law (as above).

Injunctive relief

What injunctive relief is available to defendants (eg, anti-suit injunctions)?

There is no precedent on a judgment debtor having applied for and obtained an anti-suit injunction restraining the judgment creditor from seeking enforcement of a foreign judgment in Cyprus. There is also no Supreme Court jurisprudence on anti-suit injunctions in general, other than to state that Cyprus courts avoid issuing anti-suit injunctions as a matter of courtesy to other states. 

Recognition and enforcement procedure

Formal procedure

What is the formal procedure for seeking recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment?

A judgment creditor may seek to register, recognise or enforce a foreign judgment in Cyprus by filing a summons (with notice) application against the judgment debtor. Where the judgment debtor has not taken part in the proceedings pursuant to which the judgment was issued, this application may also be filed ex parte (without notice). Whether filed by summons or ex parte, the application must be supported by an affidavit made in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules and served on the judgment debtor without delay.

The judgment debtor may file a written opposition, which must be supported by an affidavit made in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules. Oppositions must be filed at least two days before the hearing date of the application. This deadline is extendable if the court is convinced that there are special grounds for an extension. The grounds on which a judgment debtor may raise an opposition are limited to:

  • challenging the jurisdiction of the court hearing the application;
  • challenging whether the prerequisites set by the treaty or convention pursuant to which the judgment creditor seeks to enforce have been met; and
  • alleging that the judgment has already been satisfied.

Facts alleged in the opposition may be proven by affidavit or oral evidence at any stage of the proceedings.

As per Cypriot case law on the matter, when determining whether the prerequisites for recognition and enforcement have been met, the court maintains its inherent power to examine matters which may have not been raised in the opposition.

Timeframe

What is the typical timeframe for the proceedings to grant recognition and enforcement?

While the timeframe may vary depending on whether the recognition and enforcement application is opposed, once filed, a hearing will be set for no later than four weeks from the filing date. On hearing the application, the court will issue its decision as soon as possible (typically within a further four weeks).

Fees

What fees apply to applications for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

Lawyers’ fees may vary depending on the amount of the judgment. In the absence of a private agreement between the applicant and his or her lawyers, the latter’s fees will be calculated pursuant to a bill of costs (and subsequently assessed by the registry), which will be made under the Rules of the Supreme Court on the basis of the pre-set scale of costs relevant to the proceedings. In turn, this is determined by the amount of the judgment. The default scale for non-pecuniary claims will be between €10,000 and €50,000.

Security

Must the applicant for recognition and enforcement provide security for costs?

Security for costs is regulated by the Civil Procedure Rules, which provide that security for the amount expected to be incurred in defending the proceedings may be ordered by the court at any stage of the proceedings, but only where the applicant is ordinarily resident outside Cyprus or any other EU member state. A security for costs may be ordered only if the defendant applies to the court for such a security. Further, in some occasions, bilateral treaties preclude the ordering of security; in such a case, there is no obligation to provide security for costs. 

Appeal

Are decisions on recognition and enforcement subject to appeal?

Yes, such decisions are appealable. According to the Civil Procedure Rules (Order 35, Rule 2), appeals may be filed within six weeks of the judgment or order becoming binding on the intending appellant or, if the application is refused, from the date of refusal.

Other costs

How does the enforcing court address other costs issues arising in relation to the foreign judgment (eg, calculation of interest, exchange rates)?

The court will consider only the costs relating to the application and security in its cost assessment of registration or enforcement proceedings. Where interest has been awarded in the foreign judgment, this constitutes part of the judgment to be recognised. Regarding the issue of exchange rate, the court will not amend the currency of the judgment and, in cases where the amount is payable in a currency other than euros, the exchange rate will be the applicable rate on the date of enforcement.

Enforcement against third parties

To what extent can the courts enforce a foreign judgment against third parties?

In general, a foreign judgment is enforceable only against the third parties to whom it is addressed. However, assets belonging to the judgment debtor which are held by a third party may be subject to a freezing order and eventually seized for the purpose of executing the judgment.

Partial recognition and enforcement

Can the courts grant partial recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

While the general rule is that foreign judgments will be enforced by Cyprus courts as they were issued, the courts can partially recognise and enforce foreign judgments where not all parts thereof are enforceable under the relevant legal framework. Moreover, there is nothing in the domestic law precluding the courts from refusing to enforce part of a foreign judgment.

As regards EU judgments in particular, partial enforcement is provided under Article 48 of the Brussels Regulation (44/2001), which provides that where a foreign judgment has been given in respect of several matters and enforceability cannot be given to all of them, the court or competent authority must enforce one or more of them. However, there is no corresponding provision on partial enforcement in the Brussels Recast Regulation (1215/2012).