Cyprus - Time Bars
The Limitation of Actionable Rights Law of 2012 (basic Law) along with any amendments, is the Law that regulates the maximum period for claim-filing (legal action) in Cyprus Courts (exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Republic of Cyprus).
The limitation period begins to run once on the day the cause of action occurs. In other words as all events that give rise to an actionable right concerning a claim or once the claimant becomes aware of previous injury and/or damage. Thus the cause of action dictates the limitation period. As soon as the limitation period expires, the Court has no longer jurisdiction unless a party with a legitimate interest submits an application and as a result the Court may extend the prescribed period up to two years to ensure a fair trial.
Generally, and unless otherwise specified in any other Law, no action shall be brought upon for or in respect of any cause of action, following the expiration of ten (10) years from the date when such action accrued.
Any action concerning any contract, subject to the below, shall be brought within six (6) years from the date of cause of action (i.e. breach of contract). Regarding contracts or quasi-contracts in relation to an agreed or reasonable fee of amongst others, an attorney, doctor, architect, another independent professional, etc. the limitation period is three (3) year. The limitation period in cases where loan agreements form a contract, commence on the day the lender or at least one of the lenders (where co-lenders exist) serve a written notice to the borrower(s) for debt repayment, if the agreement has one of the following characteristics:
- Does not provide specific or determinable or up to a specific or determinable debt repayment date; or
- Prior notice to the debtor re debt repayment does not constitute a requirement.
Loan agreements secured by mortgage or pledge have a twelve (12) years limitation period just like any other legal action related to mortgage or pledge.
In general terms, no action shall be brought in relation to a civil offense after six (6) years from the day of cause of action. The limitation period alters to three (3) years instead of six (6) in cases of negligence, nuisance or breach of statutory duties. It is of vital importance to note that whereas a person is unaware of any injury or damage for which he finds out at a later stage, the limitation period begins on the day s/he becomes aware of such injury and/or damage. As far as defamation or malicious falsehoods are concern, the limitation period shrinks to one (1) year. It shall be noted that the Court has discretion, following the limitation period expiration, within the next two (2) years, to allow a claim which relates to compensation for causing personal injury or death due to tort, after taking into account the reasoning and the time of claim-filing, in relation to the claimant`s (or the deceased) incapacity to deal with his case, to ensure the necessary relevant information, etc.. In such cases, the Court may decide not to apply the limitation period.
The Limitation of Actionable Rights Law of 2012
|Nature of Claim||Time Bar|
|Contract Claims||Within 6 years of the breach of the contract and 12 years for breach of contract (loan agreements) secured by mortgage or pledge.|
|Mortgage or People Claims||For any mortgage or pledge, the limitation period is 12 years from the day of completion of the basis of the claim.|
|Tortious Claims||The limitation period shall be 6 years. If the claim relates to treatment damages for negligence, nuisance or breach of statutory duties, legal action right period shall lapse after 3 years from the day of cause of action. If the claim relates to defamation or malicious falsehood the limitation period (from the day of cause of action) is 1 year.|
|Heir/Legatee Claims||Within 8 years from the day of death, unless the claimant was absent abroad for which the limitation period does not expire, except after a period of 1 year where the claimant became aware or could become aware (with reasonable care) of the death and/or his return to Cyprus.|
|Judgement Claims||Within 15 years from the day on which the judgement became final.|
Fraud or Mistake Claims
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.
Please note to the above that any payments made by an obligor who was unaware of the expiry of the period of limitation shall not be recoverable.
Vital context to the Law is the suspension and disruption of the limitation periods which must be cautiously examined. An example of limitation period suspension is in cases of mediation. If in accordance with the applicable law on mediation, for as long as the mediation lasts for the limitation period is suspended. The limitation period is disrupted thus reset, in cases where the obligor gives a written consent to a legal action against him. There are various scenarios for which the limitation period is either suspended or disrupted and one must take into account depending on each case.
Due to the Cyprus political problems the Cap.15 (Law which governed the limitation period) has been effectively suspended. A series of amendments repeals and extensions to the Suspension Laws muddled the waters and created uncertainty. The new basic law and its amendments have now abolished the Cap.15 but must be carefully treated when it comes to its effects since it may produce a level of ambiguity to the matter.
The provisions of the basic Law shall come into operation on the 01/01/2016 with the following clarifications:
Legal actions for which their limitation period right exist or go beyond the 01/01/2016, the limitation period starts to run on that day (1/1/16) and NOT on the day of cause of action or awareness of injury and/or damage as stated above. Any cause of action which occurs after the 1st day of 2016, the limitation period begins on that day. For example if the claim relates to legal fees and the right was acquired on 31/12/14, then the legal claim right will be barred three (3) years after the 01/01/16, the date on which the limitation period starts to run. Therefore the limitation period ends on the 01/01/19.
This Memorandum is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on any specific facts or circumstances (in no case it can substitute specialised professional legal advice). The information purposes cannot be considered exhaustive of the subject it deals with. An attorney-client relationship is not created or continued by sending and/or receiving this Memorandum. Costas Dias Economou will be pleased to provide further information regarding the matters discussed in this Memorandum