A foreign court judgment or arbitral award has no direct operation in Cyprus. It is essential for the party who is looking to enforce the court judgment or arbitral award (“Claimant”) to file an application seeking the recognition of such foreign judgment or arbitral award, before this can be enforced against any assets of the other party (“Defendant”) in Cyprus.
The Decisions of Foreign Courts (Recognition, Registration and Enforcement) Law of 2000 (Law 121(I)/2000) (“the Law”) regulates the procedure in relation to the recognition of foreign judgments and foreign arbitral awards in Cyprus. Pursuant to section 3(1) of the Law, “decision of a foreign court” is defined as the decision of a court or an arbitral body of a foreign country, with which the Republic of Cyprus is connected with a treaty for mutual recognition and enforcement of court judgments and arbitral awards and which is enforceable in the foreign country issuing such decision.
Such a connection exists between Cyprus and Ukraine as Law No. 8(III)/2005 has ratified the bilateral treaty between the Republic of Cyprus and Ukraine on Legal Assistance in Civil Matters (“the Treaty”).
Article 20 of the Treaty specifies that only the following judgments, can be the subject matter of recognition in Cyprus:
- Judgments in civil matters, including family matters and amicable settlements approved by the Ukrainian Courts;
- Judgments in criminal matters for payment of damages.
The Claimant shall ensure that the Ukrainian judgment meets the requirements set in Article 21 of the Treaty, before filing a relevant application for the recognition of the Ukrainian judgment before the Cyprus Courts (“the recognition application”). The requirements are the following:
- the Ukrainian judgment is final and enforceable in Ukraine;
- where the judgment was issued in the absence of the Defendant, the Defendant must have been duly notified about the Ukrainianproceedings in accordance with the Ukrainian law;
- no judgment which became final, was issued at an earlier time on the same subject matter between the same parties by a Court of Cyprus;
- no proceedings were commenced on the same subject matter between the same parties before the Courts of Cyprus at a time earlier than the proceedings in which the relevant judgment was issued;
- the recognition or enforcement of the Ukrainian judgment is not contrary to the public order of Cyprus;
- the judgment or its effects are not contrary to the fundamental principles and any law of Cyprus;
- the judgment was issued by a court having the jurisdiction to do so pursuant to the provisions of Article 17 of the Treaty. These provisions include, amongst others, that the Defendant had his residence in Ukraine when the proceedings were commenced or the Defendant explicitly accepted the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian courts or the disputed contract was concluded in Ukraine or would be performed therein or the real estate which is subject of the proceedings is located in Ukraine).
Pursuant to section 5(a) of the Law, the procedure starts by filing a by summons application supported by an affidavit with all the relevant documents attached as exhibits, before the relevant District Court of Cyprus, in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules. The local jurisdiction shall be determined on the basis of the place of domicile of the party against whom the enforcement is sought. The said application has to be served on the Defendant, who has the right to file an opposition.
Pursuant to section 5(e) of the Law, the opposition grounds have to be limited to the issue of the jurisdiction of the Courts of Cyprus or to a proven satisfaction of the judgment or to the fact that any of the conditions set out in the Treaty are not satisfied.
Pursuant to Article 22 of the Treaty the recognition application shall be accompanied by a certified copy of the relevant Ukrainian judgment and a certificate to the effect that the judgment is final and enforceable in Ukraine, unless this is evident in the body of the judgment itself. Additionally, where the judgment was issued in default of an appearance of the Defendant, a certificate shall also be adduced that the said party was duly notified of the Ukrainian proceedings.
The above documents shall be accompanied by a certified translation into one of the official languages of the Republic of Cyprus (i.e. Greek or Turkish) or English as per Article 22(3) of the Treaty. As Greek is the language used in the Cyprus Courts, we would recommend translating the relevant documents into Greek.
It is noted that the Claimant can simultaneously with the recognition application, also file an application to secure an interim order such as a freezing injunction (“Mareva injunction”) freezing the assets of the Defendant within the Cyprus jurisdiction, pending the final determination of the application for the recognition of the Ukrainian judgment in Cyprus.
Once recognised in Cyprus, the Ukrainian judgment will have the same force as judgments issued by the Courts of Cyprus and all methods of enforcement would be available to the Claimant.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and does not constitute legal advice. For any further information please contact Marina Hadjisoteriou, Partner of Michael Kyprianou & Co LLC by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Maria Georgiou, Legal Consultant of Michael Kyprianou at email@example.com