The New Cyprus Commercial Court: An “Internationalisation” of Cyprus Civil Justice?

On 2nd June 2022 the Cypriot parliament passed law 69(I)/2022 for the establishment of a Commercial Court and an Admiralty Court (“the Law”).


Many readers will be aware that Cyprus is an island in the eastern Mediterranean and the eastern most outpost of the European Union. Its geographical location being at the crossroads of Asia, Europe and the Middle East has shaped its history. Previously seen as a strategic location for would be conquerors of which there were many, the location of Cyprus, its Common Law background, large number of Double Tax Treaties, business friendly climate and highly effective and efficient services sector have been key drivers in making Cyprus a favoured business destination for many Europeans especially Dutch, for Canadians, nationals of the states of the former Soviet Union and latterly Chinese and Israeli investors. This has established Cyprus as a major international business hub which has a reach that belies its size.

The growth of Cyprus as a business centre has placed great pressure on its civil courts, resulting in delays that are amongst the worst in the European Union. The reasoning behind the establishment of the Commercial Court is the creation of a specialist Court where the judges will specialise in commercial disputes in the same manner and with the same efficiency as specialist courts such as commercial courts, construction and technology courts operate in other jurisdictions.

Characteristics of the Commercial Court

One unique aspect of the Commercial Court which demonstrates the desire of the legislature to ease the administration of justice in international commercial disputes is the permissibility of using the English language. This mirrors recent initiatives in some EU jurisdictions, most notably Holland which have established similar international commercial courts to cater for the foreign business community that conducts business in or through these jurisdictions.

Jurisdiction of the Commercial Court

The Commercial Court will hear commercial disputes which are defined in the law as disputes relating to:

(a) Business documents or contracts.

(b) Purchase, sale, import and export of goods.

(c) The carriage of goods by land, air or pipeline.

(d) The exploitation of oil, natural gas or other natural resources.

(e) Insurance and reinsurance.

(f) The functioning of markets or the exchange of shares, stock or other monetary credit or investment vehicles or goods (which is clarified to mean every kind of moveable property save for choses in action and money and includes bonds and shares.

(g) The provision of services excluding medical, quasi medical, dentistry services or services that are provided within an employment contract.

(h) Manufacture of vehicles.

(i) Commercial representations.

(j) The application of the provisions of the law relating to Compensation for Breaches of competition law.

(k) Disputes between shareholders in entities that are regulated by any regulatory authority within the Republic of Cyprus.

(l) Matters relating to copyright and related rights within the ambit of the law for the Protection of Copyright and Related Rights law and the Certificates of Inventions law.

(m) Arbitration Issues.

Minimum Monetary Value of Disputes

The Law sets the minimum value of disputes that will be heard by the Commercial Court at €2 million excluding interest claimed. In the event of a dispute as to the value of the dispute, and by extension the jurisdiction of the court the objecting party may apply to the court of a determination.

In the event that the court determines that the value of the commercial dispute is below €2 million the Law allows the Commercial Court to refer the dispute to the District Court.

Geographical Jurisdiction

(a) The cause of action arises in whole or in part in the district where the Court has jurisdiction.

(b) The defendant or any one of the defendants at the time of the filing of the action resides, carries on business, or in the case of a legal person has its registered office in the district where the court has jurisdiction.

(c) The parties jointly agree between themselves by written agreement to refer the commercial dispute to the Commercial Court, in such a case if any one of the parties resides outside Cyprus, or carries on business outside Cyprus, or in the case of a legal person has its registered office outside Cyprus. In such a case the Commercial Court sitting in Nicosia shall have jurisdiction

(d) The jurisdiction of the Commercial Court derives from community law, international treaty or any rule of private international law. In such a case the Commercial Court sitting in Nicosia shall have jurisdiction.

Transfer of Cases from the District Court to the Commercial Court

Any party may apply to either the Commercial Court or to the District Court for a case that is before the District Court to be transferred to the Commercial Court provided that the hearing of the case has not commenced.

Transfer of Cases from the Commercial Court to the District Court

A judge of the Commercial Court may transfer a case to the District Court where:

(a) the Commercial Court lacks jurisdiction, or

(b) where upon the application of any party that it is appropriate for the case to be tried before the District Court.

Sittings of the Commercial Court

The Commercial Court shall sit in the district capitals of each administrative in buildings that will be specifically prescribed and published in the Official Gazette. Given that there are four administrative districts one can assume that two judges will sit in Nicosia one in Limassol, one in the Larnaca-Famagusta District and one in Pafos.

The Commercial Court will have its own separate registry and registrars.

Judges of the Commercial Court

The Commercial Court will be manned by five judges to be appointed by the Supreme Legal Council.

As the Law prescribes that the number of judges shall be five. This number will effectively and for all intents and purposes be limited to five as a change of law is required for the increase in the number of judges.

The judges of the Commercial Court shall have the standing and shall have the same powers as those of a President of the District Court. (Hitherto the highest tier of judges of first instance in the civil justice system of Cyprus).

The powers derive from the Courts of Justice Law and the Civil Procedure Law.

Procedure Before the Commercial Court

The Courts of Justice Law applies to the following extent:

  • Section 29 relating to the law to be applied (the Constitution, Statute law, Common Law and Equity, Vakouf (Turkish Cypriot trusts and immoveable property) law;
  • Part 4 – relating to the powers of the Court;
  • Part 5 – relating to the witnesses and evidence;
  • Part 7 – relating to the transfer of cases from a court to another court having jurisdiction by order signed by the President of the Supreme Court*.

Procedure before the Commercial Court shall be regulated by procedural regulations specially formulated for the requirements of the Commercial Court. For this purpose, the Supreme Court* has power within the Law to issue a procedural order for the better implementation of the Law and for the regulation of any matter capable of regulation by way of procedural rules.

Use of English Language

A judge of the Commercial Court may where the interests of justice demand allow for the hearing of the case and the filing of pleadings to be in the English language following an application of one of the parties. In such a case the court prescribes that the English language as the language in which the procedure shall be carried out and shall issue its judgment in English.

Appeals from the Commercial Court

Each judgment or order of the Commercial Court is subject to appeal before the Supreme Court.

A decision of the Commercial Court for the pre-trial referral of a question to the ECJ or a decision of the Commercial Court dismissing an application for the pre-trial referral of a question to the ECJ shall not be subject to appeal.

As with other courts in Cyprus the Law establishing the Commercial Court does not contain any provisions for leave to appeal or any restrictions as to the grounds of appeal.

In the case of an appeal, the Law states that the Supreme Court* shall not be bound by any findings of fact made by the Commercial Court and shall where the circumstances so demand shall have power to review and re-examine evidence and reach its own conclusions and shall further be entitled examine further evidence and to rehear witnesses and to issue any order of judgment that is justified under the circumstances including an order the rehearing of the case by the Commercial Court or other court having jurisdiction to hear the case.


The establishment of the Commercial Court is a reaction to commercial pressure for a quicker and more specialist trial court for larger commercial disputes many of which run into hundreds of millions and indeed some into billions of Euros.

Specialist commercial judges will in time gain the experience and specialised knowledge so as to be able to deal with complex commercial cases effectively and speedily.

The ability of the court to conduct proceedings in English will expand and enhance cooperation with foreign lawyers and make justice more accessible to a large number of potential litigants who conduct their commercial businesses within and through Cyprus.

The wide jurisdiction given to the Supreme Court* may appear daunting at first. It is however to be seen as an attempt to give finality to the proceedings at the level of the appeal. This should eliminate the need for retrials in all but the most unavoidable circumstances.

On the whole, the legal and commercial community of Cyprus has greeted the creation of the commercial court with an open mind and a cautious optimism. 

Andrew Demetriou

Ioannides Demetriou LLC  

*It should be noted that the current Supreme Court will be re-organised into an Appeals Court and a Constitutional Court. The appeal from the Commercial Court will be to the civil division of the Appeals Court.

Competition Clearance in Cyprus – a quick summary

Under Cyprus law, transactions such as mergers and acquisitions resulting in concentrations of major importance which meet the threshold prescribed under the Control of Concentrations Between Undertaking Law 83(I)/2014 (the “Law”) may have to be notified to the Cyprus Commission for the Protection of Competition (“CPC”).

Which acts of concentration must be notified?

Acts of concentration of major importance within the scope of the Law, shall be notified to the service of the CPC (the “Service”) before their implementation and following the conclusion of the agreement or before its conclusion upon proving to the CPC the existence of a bona fide intention to enter into an agreement. A concentration is considered to be of major importance where:

(i) the aggregate turnover achieved by each of at least two of the participating undertakings exceeds EUR 3.500.000 (EUR 3.5 million);

(ii) at least two of the participating undertakings achieve turnover in Cyprus; and

(iii) at least EUR 3.500.000 (EUR 3.5 million) out of the aggregate turnover of all participating undertakings is achieved in Cyprus.

Notifications and timeframes

With the submission of the notification, a fee is paid to the Service of the CPC (currently set at EUR 1.000) which marks the commencement of the initial stage of the review. The Service will then proceed with a preliminary evaluation of the notification and prepare a written report to the CPC with its reasoned opinion. The CPC will in turn examine the notification taking into account the written report produced by the Service and take a decision as follows:

(a) the notified concentration does not fall within the scope of the Law and/or within the meaning of concentration; or

(b) the concentration does not raise serious doubts as to its compatibility with the functioning of competition in the market and the concentration is declared compatible with the functioning of competition in the market; or

(c) the concentration raises serious doubts as to its compatibility with the functioning of competition in the market and commences full investigation proceedings.

If the CPC decides to initiate a full investigation it invites the parties to pay an additional fee (currently set at EUR 6.000).

The Service has a statutory deadline of 1 month to notify the parties of the decision taken by the CPC on whether the concentration may be implemented (Phase I review) or whether the concentration is going to be fully investigated as per point (c) above (Phase II investigation). Depending on the complexity or volume of information, the Service may extend the deadline by 14 days in which case it shall inform the notifying undertaking at least 7 days before the expiry of the initial statutory deadline. If additional information is required for the purposes of securing the completeness of the notification, the statutory deadline is reset to 1 month.

If the notifying undertaking does not receive CPC’s decision within the expiration of the aforementioned timeframe, the transaction is deemed to have been declared compatible with the market.

Publication of CPC decision and confidentiality

The nature of the notified concentration, names of the participating undertakings and the economic sectors involved are published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cyprus (“Official Gazette of Cyprus”). A non-confidential version of CPC’s decision on the notified concertation with the redaction of selected parts of the decision is published on the Official Gazette of Cyprus and the website of the CPC upon a confidentiality request by the parties involved in the concentration.

The CPC and the Service are bound by a duty of confidentiality and their members and officers are prohibited from communicating and/or publicising confidential information and business secrets which become available to them in the process of the notification. The notifying undertaking may also specify to the CPC which documents, statements and material it considers as confidential information and/or business secrets.

Basic notions and definitions

“Undertaking”In Competition Law, an undertaking covers any entity engaged in an economic activity, regardless of its legal status and the way in which it is financed. Any activity consisting in offering goods or services on a given market is an economic activity.
“Concentration”A concentration arises where a change of control on a lasting basis results from:  

(a) the merger of two or more previously independent undertakings or parts of undertakings;  

(b) the acquisition, by one or more persons controlling at least one undertaking, or by one or more undertakings, whether by purchase of securities or assets, by contract or by any other means, of direct or indirect control of the whole or parts of one or more other undertakings;  

The creation of a joint venture performing on a lasting basis all the functions of an autonomous economic entity also constitutes a concentration within the meaning of point (b) above.

Failure to comply with the law & administrative sanctions

The implementation of a transaction giving rise to an act of concentration of major importance is prohibited under Cyprus Law unless such transaction is cleared by the CPC. Failure to obtain clearance may result in fines, including an administrative fine of up to 10% of the total turnover of the undertaking with an obligation to notify. The CPC also has the power to order the dissolution or partial dissolution of a concentration, in order to secure the restoration of the functioning of competition in the market.

Our services include

  • Preliminary assessment to determine whether the transaction constitutes a concentration of major importance which must be notified to the CPC;
  • Comprehensive advice on cross-border and national transactions;
  • Merger control filings (notification) and approvals (clearance);
  • Request for confidentiality by redacting selected parts of the published clearance decision.

Get in touch for an initial consultation

The information provided in this article does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice; instead, all information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only. If you require assistance with any legal matter, including a matter referred to in this article, you should contact one of our attorneys to obtain advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

Latest amendments to the infrastructure of the Cyprus Registrar of Companies

Cyprus is a small European country whose economy largely relies on the services sector which is manned by highly qualified and experienced professionals and this is one of the reasons why the country has been established as a popular business hub. In the face of many challenges in recent years, the services sector in Cyprus has exhibited resilience and has strived for growth. Nowadays, in a rapidly evolving international business environment, largely reliant on technology, the lack of modern infrastructure and the often-excessive bureaucracy proves to be a significant obstacle for professionals in Cyprus.

In an effort to reduce bureaucracy and increase the efficiency within the much-criticized Registrar of Companies (“RoC”), the first steps towards modernizing the corporate legal framework have been made through the introduction in the past year of a number of amendments including the requirement for notifications and statutory forms to be filed the RoC electronically and the possibility to file documents with the RoC which are signed or certified or validated electronically, subject to the issue of regulations in this respect by the RoC. Recently, further amendments have been implemented in an effort to change the infrastructure of the RoC on a more extensive level.

The latest key amendments include the following:

  • Update of statutory forms

Over 100 existing statutory forms of the RoC have been revised to introduce simplified and user-friendly forms which will include guidance notes, aiming to reduce time-consuming correspondence with the RoC caused by unclarities. The changes include in particular (i) the merging of forms where this has been considered necessary, (ii) the removal of unnecessary information previously included in forms, such as the occupation and previous names of directors, and (iii) the introduction of new notification forms aiming to unify submissions to the RoC, such as the notification by the company directors of the decision to strike-off the company.

  • Abolition of capital duty

The capital duty payable on the authorized share capital and on any subsequent increase of share capital is abolished, an amendment which apart from being an incentive for investors, will lead to the simplification of the increase and reduction of capital of a company.

  • Electronic publications

An official gazette which shall be maintained by the RoC electronically is introduced, to allow for publications which would have been made in the official gazette of the Republic of Cyprus to be made on the RoC electronic gazette. This is a significant step towards efficiency and transparency as it will reduce time required for a publication and will give easier access to the public to information of interest in relation to companies.

  • Provisions relating to companies strike off

The provisions of the Companies Law, Cap.113, in relation to the strike off of companies from the companies register have been amended to allow creditors or members of a company to object to its striking-off, and to provide the power to the RoC to reinstate a company without a court order under certain circumstances.

  • Administrative Fines

Several provisions of the Companies Law have been amended to provide for the imposition of administrative fines in the case of late flings of statutory notifications to the RoC including notifications of allotment of shares, transfer of shares and filing of the annual return.

Even though the recent amendments include several provisions which are not directly aimed at modernizing the infrastructure of the RoC, these are considered to be a step in the right direction. Provided the amendments are properly implemented, they could be a much-needed shift to digitalization and a streamlining of the statutory requirements with the practical procedures of the RoC, in a way which is expected to reduce inconsistencies and bureaucracy and enable professionals in Cyprus to offer a higher quality of service to local and foreign investors.

What remains to be seen is whether the everyday implementation of the revised procedures will bring about the long-awaited improvements or whether they will result in further complications and backlog.