In 2015 the Supreme Court proceeded into a number of amendments regarding the Civil Procedure Rules applying in Cyprus and more specifically regarding Orders 25 and 30. The said amendments came into force from the 01.01.2015 for the claims that had been filed after the said date with scale under €10,000 and for all the other claims with higher scale which had been filed after the 01.01.2015 from the 01.01.2016.
The main intention of the Supreme Court was to speed up the court proceedings especially the proceedings in relation to smaller claims which used to be heard 5 or 6 years after their filing, creating costs even greater than the amount claimed via the action.
According to the new Order 30 of the Civil Procedure Rules, in every claim, irrespective of the scale of the action, the plaintiff must issue a summons for directions within 30 days after the completion of the pleadings. In case the plaintiff neglects or fails to do so, the defendant must issue a notice by which he notifies the plaintiff of the latter’s omission to issue a summons for directions, calling him to file for such summons 30 days after the service of the notice. If the plaintiff still fails to file a summons for directions, the claim will be rejected by the Court with costs against the plaintiff. Such a rejection will not be prohibitive for the plaintiff to file a new action based on the same cause of action.
In case a summons for directions is issued, each party is required, within 30 days after the filing and service of the said summons, to specify in a written annex the precise direction(s) he wants the court to issue. Importantly, if a party fails to complete the said annex fully or partly, then that party will not be allowed to request orally the issuing of any directions which had not been requested in writing via the completion of the annex.
Order 30 and Claims under €3,000
For claims under €3,000 the Court will issue directions for all the parties to submit and exchange their testimony in writing, taking into account the statement of each of the parties as to the number of the witnesses they will have in proving their case and the time for preparation needed by each of the parties. The plaintiff shall file his written testimony first, within the time indicated by the Court, and then the defendant will follow.
The written testimony must, inter alia, have the form of an affidavit, form the entire testimony of the said witness and be in accordance to the alleged facts included in the writ of summons, in the statement of claim or in the defence or counterclaim and it must refer to the documents which support any allegations included therein and such documents must also be attached.
The trial of such actions will be based solely on the written testimony filed. Nevertheless, the Court may, in only exceptional circumstances, issue directions as to the hearing of oral testimony by a litigant or a witness who has already filed his written testimony with the Court.
Order 30 and Claims over €3,000
For claims over €3,000 the parties are required to file with the Court a list including the names of the witnesses they intend to call together with a summary of each witness’ testimony. The trial of such actions is based on the written testimonies that have been filed with the Court and the latter allows each party to proceed into an examination-in-chief, cross-examination or re-examination. However, the new Order 30 makes reference to time limits as well.
The allowed time for examination-in-chief is 15 minutes and the time for cross-examination and re-examination will be set by the Court depending on the statements and documents which have been submitted by each witness during the latter’s examination-in-chief.
The wording of the new Order 25 is stricter and it clearly aims at the speeding of the court proceedings while avoiding extensive amendments that used to be allowed at any stage of the proceedings. According to the new Order 25 rule 1, a party to the claim may proceed to the amendment of his pleadings, either with or without the leave of the Court, depending on the stage of the case, as follows:
As the previous Order 25 was providing, if a party who has obtained an order for leave to amend does not amend accordingly within the time limited for that purpose by the order, or if no time is thereby limited, then within 15 days from the date of the order, such order to amend shall, on the expiration of such limited time as aforesaid, or of such 15 days, as the case may be, become ipso facto void, unless the time is extended by the Court.