This is the last article of a series of articles relating to interim orders in Cyprus.
How long does it take for an interim order to be tried?
Clients often ask the logical question of how long will it take for final judgment on an application for an interim order. The answer harks back to the old English adage of “how long is a piece of string?”. There is no fixed timeline for trying an application for an interim order. Some finish within two months, others can take even years.
The time it takes for the date of filing to the date of final judgment by the Court is influenced by a multitude of factors. Some of these factors are:
- Whether one is serving within or out of the jurisdiction of the Court.
- Whether service can be effected speedily and with ease or not.
- Whether other interim applications will occur within the main application of the interim order (such applications may be for the cross examination of affiants, for supplementary affidavits to be filed, for contempt of Court in relation to the ex parte issued interim order, for amending the terms of the interim order etc.)
- The Court’s own schedule
- Time required for preparation by either side.
- Delaying tactics by either side
What is the actual legal procedure for trying an interim order?
Step 1: As interim order applications cannot be filed on their own in Cyprus, a main legal proceeding, either in the form of an action or a general application, must be filed. In its simpler form (the filing of an action), the procedure is as follows: The applicant files a claim under Order 2 Rule 1 of the Civil Procedure Rules. This is a generally endorsed claim as opposed to a specifically endorsed claim under Order 2 Rule 6 of the Civil Procedure Rules.
Step 2: Along with the filing of the claim the applicant also files the application for the interim order which is accompanied by the supporting affidavit which in turn has as attached exhibits all the documentation that must be brought before the Court.
Step 3: The Court Registrar brings the interim order before a judge based on a secret rotor which only the Court Registrar knows. The judge decides, based on his schedule, when to hear the ex parte application. It could be on the same day, the day after or even three days down the line. It depends on the judge’s schedule.
Step 4: The applicant appears on the set date and the Court decides if it will issue the interim order on an ex parte basis or if it will refuse its ex parte issuance and order it to be served.
Step 5: If the interim order is issued ex parte the applicant the Court gives directions for it to be served to the opposing party fixing a date for service. The applicant must then furnish the guarantee to the Court Registrar who types up the interim order so it can be served along with true copies of the application on which it was issued.
Step 6: On the date fixed for appearance to check if service has been effected the opposing party will (most likely) appear (if they have indeed been served) and request for time to file an objection. The Court will set another appearance for directions and give directions for the objection to be filed by then.
Step 7: Once the objection has been filed, if there are no other applications lodged, the Court will proceed with setting a date for the hearing of the application. The hearing will be conducted by both oral and written submissions which will be presented to the Court on the date set for hearing.
Step 8: Once the hearing takes place the Court will most probably reserve judgment for a later date but could also hand judgment down on the day from the bench by way of what is known as an ex tempore (at the time) judgment. If the judgment is reserved the Court has up to two months to issue it. With the final judgment the interim order will either be made absolute or be quashed. In some instances, some parts of interim order may be made absolute while others quashed, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Of course, the above process is not always the case. Sometimes, and especially if there are a number of applications ancillary to the main application, things can become more complex and the procedure takes longer to reach a conclusion.
Enforcement of interim orders
An interim order is always accompanied with a penal notice. The penal notice states that a party not adhering to the interim order may have its property confiscated by the Court or may be jailed. Once a party (or person) served with an interim order disregards it and/or acts contrary to it he is deemed to be in contempt of Court. Being in contempt of Court is considered a very serious transgression under the Cypriot legal system. It is not an exaggeration to say that persons found in contempt of Court in relation to disregarding and/or acting contrary to interim orders do indeed run the risk of jailtime.