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Commercial court in 2018

In efforts to modernise the Cyprus justice system, a new Commercial court will be set up in early 2018 to deal with claims arising from contracts, company disputes, the purchase or sale of goods, etc.

Cyprus Supreme Court

The Cyprus Supreme Court

JUSTICE Minister Ionas Nicolaou and the members of the Supreme Court decided on Thursday to set up a Commercial Court as part of efforts to modernise the justice system.

Referring to the number of such cases at the district courts, Nicolaou said there were 342 registered in 2015 and 273 registered last year.

In statements to the media following the meeting, the minister said the Commercial Court would have jurisdiction over matters including claims arising from contracts or disputes between companies, the purchase or sale of goods, the exploitation of oil or gas, the purchase or exchange of shares, intellectual property and insurance affairs.

The court will have two seats, one in Limassol and one in Nicosia, but as the minister said, there would be consultations with the Supreme Court. The Commercial Court will also have a separate structure and will operate outside the District Courts.

There will be a “fast track” procedure, which can be completed at first instance up to 18 months.

Nicolaou said his ministry was preparing a bill which would be re-examined, and would next week be submitted for consultation to interested parties such as the Cyprus Bar Association, CIPA and others who have expressed interest in the establishment of a Commercial Court.

The aim is for the bill to be submitted to the House immediately after the summer, so that the discussion is completed in time to allow all preparatory work to take place and the Court to become operational at the beginning of 2018.

He said that in agreement with the minister of finance a number of judges would be provided for in the budget who will set up and work in the Commercial Court.

“Our country wants to be considered as a place which provides services and that is why we have to create the appropriate conditions and judicial procedures, which will give the opportunity for these cases to be heard before the Court within a short period of time,” said Nicolaou.

“In this way we will be able to attract additional investments, entrepreneurs and companies interested in registering or operating in Cyprus from abroad.”

The minister also said that there would be a possibility to hear disputes arising from transactions abroad when the parties have agreed that the dispute should be judged on the basis of Cypriot law and by the Commercial Court of Cyprus.

Editor’s comment

The subject of enhancing the efficiency of court applications was mentioned in various Memoranda of Agreements between Cyprus and the troika of international lenders. For example, the MoU dated September 2015 stated:

“Within the competencies of the Ministry of Justice and Public Order a consultation committee, comprising of all relevant stakeholders, will be established with the purpose of examining and making recommendations aimed at:

(i) the enhancement of the efficiency of court applications in civil and commercial cases

(ii) improved and speedier enforcement of court decisions in civil and commercial actions, inter alia, by improved powers for enforcement agents and

(iii) enhancement of the availability of financial information to Courts and enforcement agents in the context of the enforcement of court decisions.

The consultation committee will work in close cooperation with the courts service. Relevant amendments to the Civil Procedure Law and any other laws, if deemed necessary, will be adopted by the Council of Ministers by end-March 2016, following consultation with programme partners.

The authorities will request appropriate technical assistance from the programme partners in this regard.”

Readers' comments

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  • Deanna says:

    It’s obvious to us all that this is nothing to do with wishing to ‘clean up’ the internal market, but a hastily thought-through sound-bite to catch foreign money.

  • Richard says:

    100% agree with you Tojo.

    We need to know more about the actual rationale and motivation behind setting this system up from people on the inside of the decision making process (though that is rarely easy).

    If it’s a ‘bank relief court’ (by stealth), then every single outsider to Cyprus with a vested interest in NOT seeing that happen should be screaming their lungs out for a full ECJ/ECHR+media investigated & reported coverage of setting up said ‘system’ through whichever means they can lay their hands on.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that IS the motivation for setting it up (and the therefore understandable urgency). Cyprus rarely (if ever) moves fast on anything – unless it’s to cover up the latest smelly pile of corruption…

  • Mike says:

    So 18 months is fast track, heaven knows what current snail track is then, perhaps ten to twelve years. As Tojo has said there are far too many outstanding cases and a plethora of ifs, buts, chest pains and lots of smoke and mirrors to determine first in order to claim some semblance of credibility and trust I would imagine.

  • Tojo says:

    So the wish is to attract “additional investments” etc.? Well they could start off with cleaning up the mess that is the corrupt property sector developers and lawyers et al and settle the hundreds maybe thousands of outstanding cases brought by deceived overseas buyers who for inexplicable reasons are unable to get Alpha Bank anywhere near a courtroom. Otherwise how can anyone take Cyprus seriously? No one should invest a bean there until this is addressed.

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