Civil Procedure Rules & The 2015 Amendments
In 2015 Cyprus’s Supreme Court proceeded with the amendment of the Civil Procedure Rules. More specifically the amendments concerned Orders 25 &30, and they came into force from the 01/01/2015, for all the claims filed after the said date with scale of expenses under €10,000, and for all the other claims from 01/01/2016.
The rationale behind the amendments was to speed up the Court proceedings, especially for the small claim cases with scale of expenses under €3,000, by creating a “fast track” litigation process. Usually cases need 4-6 years to be heard in the Court, meaning that in low scale of expenses of cases, the legal expenses exceed the amount claimed via the action.
According to the amended Order 30, in every claim, irrespectively of the scale, the plaintiff within 30 days from the completion of the pleadingσ he/she must issue a summon for directions. If the claimant does not comply with this provision, then the claim shall be deemed as abandoned and dismissed by the Court at the end of the 60-day-period. It must be noted that in case the plaintiff neglects or fails to issue a summon for directions then the defendant must issue a notice by which he notifies the plaintiff of his omission and calling him to file the summons within 30 days. The same applies in relation to counterclaims. Whereas the plaintiff still fails to file a relevant summons for directions, then the Court will reject the claim. Non-compliance with this provision can prove to be fatal to the claim.
Moreover the new regulation, now dictates, that after the service of the summons for directions the parties must submit, in a written type and/or form, the precise directions they request from the Court to issue. As per O.30 r. 1(b) the Type and/or form 25 must be completed according to each party’s requirements for the case. It is very important to complete and request the appropriate directions in Type and/or form 25 depending on the case in order to ensure adequate narrowing down of the legal and/or factual issues pending trial. There is no possibility to submit any additional request verbally .
In addition for claims with scale of expenses below €3,000, the Court requests from the parties to disclose and exchange, in writing, the number of witnesses, which every party will present to the trial, with a summary of their testimony plus the time needed for each party to present his/her case. The plaintiff is obliged to file his/her written testimony first, in the form of an affidavit and must refer the documents supporting his/her claim. The hearing of such claims will be solely based on the written testimony filed. In contrast for claims over €3,000 the parties are allowed to proceed into an examination-in-chief, cross-examination or re-examination of the witnesses, again based on the written testimony that was previously filed. Indicatively the time allocated for the examination-in-chief is 15 minutes while the time allocated for the cross-examination and the re-examination is at the discretion of the Court. Usually the Court does not allow for the cross-examination to exceed 60 minutes and the re-examination 10 minutes.
The new Order 25 has a stricter wording that aims at the speeding of the Court process by limiting the amendments of pleadings. Before, the 2015 amendments, the parties could amend the pleadings, creating delays to the case. Now a party may proceed to the amendment of his/her pleadings, with or without the Court’s permission, as follows:
– Amendment of the writ of summons without the permission of the Court any time before the said writ of summons is serviced to the defendant.
– Amendment of pleadings without the permission of the Court after the exchange but before the issuance of the summons for directions by the plaintiff in accordance to Order 30. If this case arises, then the defendant has 15 days after the date of filing of the amended pleading to file his/her own amended pleading.
– After the issuance of the summons for directions as per Order 30, no amendment is allowed unless it is related (i) to a bona fide mistake or (ii) to new facts which were not in existence at the time when instructions were received for drafting and submitting the writ of summons and/or of a pleading depending upon the case or at the time of the filing of the writ of summons or of any other pleading.
All these innovating amendments were based on the Civil Procedure Rules of England and Wales and were introduced to the Cyprus Civil Legal System in order to develop it into an effective, practical and just civil system. Now the Court’s role is enhanced and promoted as it has greater powers to intervene, assist and control the process through effective management of the issues that arise at an early stage.
Author – Michaella Pillkouri, Lawyer
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