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How should one act when served with documents related to Cyprus Courts?

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The above is a question that more often than not begs for an answer. It has become a frequent occasion for non-Cypriots (mainly U.K. citizens) to be served with documents issued out of the Registry of a Court in Cyprus. Should one ignore them or should he or she take any steps in the context of the Court proceedings before the Cyprus Courts?

At the outset it should be pointed out that the issue of jurisdiction of the Cyprus Court out of which the documentation has been issued does not arise, at least at the initial stage. The Plaintiff - usually a Bank in Cyprus - has already “brought” the person served before the Court and the question at the initial stage is what to do in view of the receipt of the documents.

To ignore them is very dangerous. This in effect means that the Plaintiff - say the Bank – will proceed on its own in Court, secure a judgment in its favour and then, through the use of the relevant EU Directive, have it registered in the Country were the Defendant lives - say the U.K and have the judgment executed as a normal U.K. judgment against the property -movable and immovable- of the judgment debtor.

Having “done away” with the option of ignoring the Court documentation what is the correct step to take? In my opinion a local Cyprus Lawyer must immediately be instructed in order to file a Notice of Appearance in Court in the proceedings in relation to which the Defendant was served. This means that the Plaintiff will no longer be able to proceed on his own and through his or her Lawyer the Defendant will be able to defend the Plaintiff’s claim.

Coming back to the Notice of Appearance I have noticed that there is a tendency for this to be qualified i.e. filed under protest while at the same time the Defendant contests the jurisdiction of the Cyprus Court to adjudicate upon the Bank’s claim against him (the alternative would be for the Notice of Appearance to be without any qualification in which case the jurisdiction of the Court is not contested).

The proper course to follow has been shown in a relatively recent judgment of a Court in Cyprus which was issued on the 31/1/2013. In that case the Defendants filed a qualified Notice of Appearance (i.e. under protest) and contested the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the claim of the Bank against them. The Court with a detailed and considered judgment “running” to 16 pages rejected the objection and decided that it had jurisdiction to hear the case filed by the Bank against the Defendants. The latter proceeded to file their defence as they would have done had they not filed a qualified Notice of Appearance. With one important detail though. They incurred unnecessary legal fees in contesting the jurisdiction of the Cyprus Court.

Old Bailey Statue of Justice