Cyprus was a British colony until 1960, when the island became an independent republic. Until independence the legal system was based on the English legal system. As a result of British Rule, the English legal system was introduced in Cyprus and many laws were enacted in an effort to import the doctrines of common law and equity in Cyprus.
After independence in 1960 the English legal system was largely preserved. According to Article 188 of the 1960 Constitution all laws in force on the date of the coming into operation of this Constitution shall, until amended, whether by way of variation, addition or repeal, by any law or communal law, as the case may be, made under this Constitution, continue in force on or after that date, and shall, as from that date be construed and applied with such modification as may be necessary to bring them into conformity with the Constitution.
It is thus clear that the Cyprus legal system is based on its English counterpart. English jurisprudence is closely followed and all statutes regulating business matters and procedure are based essentially on English Laws.
The laws applicable are the following:
• The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus
• The laws retained in force by virtue of Article 188 of the Constitution
• The principles of Common Law and Equity
• The Laws enacted by the House of Representatives.
Since 1 May 2004, Cyprus has been a full member of the European Union and as a result European Law supersedes Cyprus Law in case of conflict.
Cyprus is also signatory to many international Treaties and Conventions.
Limitation in Cyprus Law
In Cyprus law, as in the other common law jurisdictions, timescales are provided within which legal proceedings may be initiated for breaches of the law. This is generally known as the limitation of actions period. In Cyprus, limitation periods where set out in the Limitation of Actions Law, Cap 15 ("Limitations Law") which was suspended in 1964 following inter-communal disturbances. In 2002, the Suspension of Limitation Period (Provisional Provisions) Law (110(I)/2002) was enacted and provided that the Limitations Law would re-enter into force with effect from the 1st of June 2005. However, a succession of laws passed in the interim, each temporarily extending the suspension until the 30th of June 2012. A new Limitations Law (66(I)/2012) with respect to the limitation periods of actionable rights entered into force on the 1st of July 2012.
A summary of the new law is set out below:
General Limitation Period: unless otherwise provided for in any other law, no action shall be brought upon, for, or in respect of, any cause of action after the expiration of ten (10) years from the day of completion of the basis of the claim .
Specific Limitation Periods:
The period of limitation will not commence or, if it has commenced, will be suspended in respect of the following:
a. between spouses during their marriage, even though the marriage is later annulled;
b. between parents and children, while the children are minors;
c. between trustees and trust beneficiaries, while the trust beneficiaries are minors or when the beneficiary has not yet been born and until the beneficiary is born and reaches adulthood;
d. between executors of a will or administrators of the property of a deceased and heirs and legatees of the deceased, while the heirs and legatees are minors; and
e. between cohabiting partners.
Suspension of Limitation Periods
The period of limitation shall be suspended, in any of the following circumstances:
a. If in the last 6 months of the applicable period of limitation, the claimant was prevented to commence proceedings due to a moratorium or force majeure;
b. If in the last 6 months of the applicable period of limitation, the defendant or any other person for whom the defendant is responsible prevented the claimant from instigating proceedings;
c. If in accordance with the applicable law on mediation, it is deemed that the mediation commenced and for so long as the mediation lasts for.
Disruption of Limitation Periods
The period of limitation shall be reset in the following circumstances:
a. If the obligor recognises in writing a right to an action against him;
b. In the event of a monetary debt, if the obligor pays at least 50% of the aggregate owed sum, including any accrued interest;
c. With the commencement of arbitration proceedings;
d. In case the court orders that the arbitration award is annulled or ceases to have effect.
Fraud or mistake
In the case of any action, for which: a. the right of action is concealed by the fraud of the defendant; b. the action is for relief from the consequences of a mistake, the period of limitation shall not begin to run until the claimant or his agent or any person whose actions bind him has discovered the fraud or mistake, or could, with reasonable diligence, have discovered it.
A deliberate breach of duty in circumstances which would make discovery especially difficult shall be equivalent to a deliberate concealment of fact in relation to such breach.
Any time during which the person against whom the period of limitation runs is under the age of eighteen or due to illness or medical condition is not in a position to manage his affairs shall be excluded from such period.
The Law does not apply and do not prejudice any public law rights or obligations.
Note: The limitation rules are not straightforward in all cases and this article cannot cover all individual situations. It is highly recommended that if you have a query regarding the above matter, you should seek legal advice.