Cyprus case law has long established that reverse onus in criminal cases does not transfer the burden of proof to defendants; rather, it allows them to create reasonable doubt with respect to their guilt. A recent Supreme Court decision has confirmed this in regard to wage protection and clarified that all criminal courts (ie, not just employment tribunals) must examine the facts that establish employment relationships and interpret employment contracts where said facts are disputed.
Law 8(I)/2018 came into force in July 2018, amending the Transfer and Mortgage of Immovable Property Law. The new legislation was applied for the first time in a recent Nicosia District Court case, which is considered to be of great importance in assessing how the courts will interpret the new law in future. The case concerned an auction procedure which had been initiated by the sending of the relevant documents and notices to the mortgagor, which filed a lawsuit against Hellenic Bank to suspend a foreclosure procedure.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that only part of a court judgment that had upheld an arbitrator's decision would be set aside. The appellants had raised a number of objections in their appeal, including that the summons to recognise and enforce the arbitral award had been filed improperly as the hearing had not been conducted in the same manner as a lawsuit, the parties had not agreed to refer the dispute to an arbitrator and the arbitrator had not had the legal authority to issue a mortgage disposal order.
The Protection of Paternity Law provides paternity leave only to men who are married to their child's mother before the child's birth or adoption. The House of Representatives recently tried to address this oversight by introducing an amending law, under which all fathers would be entitled to paid paternity leave regardless of their marital status. However, these changes have yet to come into force because the president referred the amending laws to the Supreme Court, claiming that they are unconstitutional.
In a recent Supreme Court case, the appellants appealed to the court to set aside or annul the first-instance court judgment which had upheld an arbitrator's decision. The Supreme Court agreed with the appellants' position on the matter and stated that the first-instance court had failed to deal with the examination of the legitimacy of the arbitration proceedings and the manner in which the arbitrator had conducted the proceedings.
The Industrial Disputes Tribunal recently issued a decision regarding a person working for the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) under a series of fixed-term contracts, some of which were referred to as contracts of employment and others as contracts for services. The tribunal ruled that, even when working under an alleged contract for services, the applicant was a CTO employee working under a genuine contract of employment.
Members of Parliament have proposed legal reforms with the aim of regulating the procedure for the appointment of receivers by debenture holders. The issues under scrutiny are that borrowers have no say during the procedure for the appointment of a receiver, and that issues with the impartiality of the receiver can arise on many occasions. However, the proposal has encountered the resistance of financial institutions.
Parliament recently introduced new legislation that aims to promote and support breastfeeding in the workplace and enhance the legal protection for working pregnant women and new mothers. One law established the minister of health as the competent authority for the promotion and protection of breastfeeding, while another extended the period during which pregnant women are protected against dismissal and established the right for working mothers to breastfeed or pump and store milk in the workplace.
In a recent Limassol District Court case, the applicants applied for the dismissal and replacement of an arbitrator. They argued that the relationship between the arbitrator and the respondents' main witness in the arbitration proceedings and his brother would lead a reasonable person to find that there was a real likelihood of bias. As a result, the applicants argued that the relationship between the parties constituted misconduct in arbitration proceedings.
In a recent Limassol District Court case, the applicants requested the registration and enforcement in Cyprus of a Russian arbitral award. Τhe court found that the applicants had failed to provide evidence of whether Russia was a contracting state to the New York Convention and that the award's translation did not fulfil the convention's requirements. As a result, the application to register and enforce the arbitral award was rejected.
A district court recently sentenced a company in liquidation that had once been Cyprus's biggest grocery retail company. The sentence concerned the issuance of a cheque with insufficient funds. According to the court, the fact that the company was under liquidation did not negate the fact that a sentence should be proportionate to the offence and act as a deterrent. The case is a useful illustration of how companies in liquidation should be treated when it comes to the imposition of fines.
The Social Insurance (Amendment) Law was revised in June 2017 to introduce definitions of 'undeclared work' and 'undeclared earnings'. 'Undeclared work' is defined as the insurable employment of an employee or a self-employed person which has not been declared to the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurances, while 'undeclared earnings' are defined as the insurable earnings for which an employer has not submitted a statement of earnings and contributions within the required deadline.
The Nicosia District Court recently issued an order which referred a dispute to arbitration. The order stipulated that the arbitrator should deliver a final decision within nine months. One of the parties applied to the court for an extension of the arbitration procedure. The court rejected the application on the ground that only the arbitrator had the right to apply for such an extension.
The annual creditors' meeting of former state-owned air carrier Cyprus Airways recently took place. The state stepped in following the company's collapse and paid the majority of employees the money owed to them. Due to this payment, and by virtue of Section 300 of the Companies Law, the state became a preferential creditor, having made a payment that was owed to preferential creditors as a third party on behalf of the company.
A number of new employment-related laws have been adopted in 2017, including the long-awaited Protection of Paternity Law and the Protection of Maternity (Amendment) Law, which introduced the concept of surrogacy. Amendments to existing laws regarding redundancy and smoking in the workplace have also been made.
The Limassol District Court recently concluded that an appeal pending before the English courts does not suspend an order's enforcement or diminish the validity of an arbitral award. The applicants had applied for the recognition and enforcement of an arbitral award issued in May 2016. The court held that the order was final and that there had been no abuse of process; the respondents' request to set aside the award was therefore rejected.
Parliament recently voted to introduce the Protection of Paternity Law. The law came into force on August 1 2017 and gives fathers in Cyprus the right to two consecutive weeks' paid paternity leave. The law has introduced statutory family-friendly rights to Cyprus for the first time, giving employers the opportunity to incentivise and support parents in their workforce.
Following the economic crisis, Cyprus witnessed the merging of several cooperative societies, mainly cooperative credit institutions. These mergers reduced the number of cooperative credit institutions from over 300 to just 18. However, in July 2017 a second merger took place which saw the 18 institutions merged into a single entity. Although cooperative societies are limited liability companies, the procedure that must be followed for merging such companies varies significantly.
In a recent Limassol District Court case, the applicants applied for the recognition and enforcement of an arbitral award issued by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The respondents had previously applied to the Cypriot courts to set aside and annul the arbitral award pursuant to the International Commercial Arbitration Law. In their objection to the application for the recognition of the award, the respondents advanced additional grounds to those raised in their earlier application to annul the award.
The District Court of Limassol recently issued a judgment in relation to an application filed by the Cooperative Bank of Limassol in 2016. The applicants had sought a court order to cross-examine the affiant on certain paragraphs of his affidavit, which supported a 2014 application for the registration and enforcement of an arbitral award in Cyprus.