The Department of Merchant Shipping recently issued an updated list of countries whose certificates of competency are recognised by Cyprus under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, as amended. The only change from the previous list, issued in November 2014, is the addition of Jordan.
The issue of jurisdiction was at the centre of a recent action in the Limassol District Court. The decision clarifies the case law relating to the interpretation of Article 7(2) of the recast EU Brussels Regulation and reaffirms the general principle that civil actions are to be brought against individuals and companies in the courts of the place where they are domiciled, except in specific instances where derogations from the general rule apply.
The Department of Merchant Shipping has announced that it will be a deputy ministry with effect from March 1 2018 and be renamed the Deputy Ministry of Shipping, following the entry into force of the Establishment of a Deputy Ministry of Shipping and Appointment of a Deputy Minister of Shipping and for Matters Connected Therewith Law 2017. As successor to the Department of Merchant Shipping, the deputy ministry will assume all of the former's rights, responsibilities, powers and obligations.
Article 9(B) of the Income Tax Law 2002 (as amended) provides for a notional interest deduction for tax purposes on new equity capital injected into companies and permanent establishments of foreign companies on or after January 1 2015 to finance business assets, calculated by applying a reference rate to the new equity. The Tax Department recently announced the 10-year government bond yields for December 31 2017, which will be used as the basis for the notional interest deduction for the 2018 tax year.
In a recent appeal case, the Supreme Court overturned a first-instance judgment regarding the timing of the completion of the pleadings and, consequently, the deadline for filing a summons for directions under Order 30 of the Civil Procedure Rules. Although the judgment in question examined the previous version of Order 30, it is useful for litigation lawyers as it clarifies when pleadings are deemed to have been completed, which remains the starting point for the deadline to file a summons for directions.
Article 47A of the Merchant Shipping (Issue and Recognition of Certificates and Marine Training) Laws provides that crew members on-board coastal passenger vessels who have safety duties relating to passengers must meet the mandatory minimum familiarisation and basic safety training and instruction requirements for all seafarers under Regulation VI/I of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.
The Department of Merchant Shipping recently issued a reminder to registered owners, bareboat charterers, managers and representatives of Cyprus-flagged ships regarding the renewal of civil liability certificates. The expiry date for most existing certificates is February 20 2018 and there has been an unprecedented delay in the submission of renewal applications. The department therefore urges parties that require a renewal to apply without further delay.
A recent administrative court case concerned the legality of a tender for the development of a new €200 million-plus marina in Paphos. The court decision was based on the well-established principle that the decision-making process of any collective body regarding a specific matter must be consistent from beginning to end and requires the presence of the same members of the body in order to ensure that all members are aware of and able to evaluate all factors which come to light during the process.
The Department of Merchant Shipping recently issued a notification to owners, bareboat charterers, managers and representatives of Cyprus-flagged and foreign-flagged vessels visiting ports in Cyprus. The amendments concern the mandatory minimum requirements for the training and qualification of masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on passenger ships and masters and deck officers on ships operating in polar waters.
The Process of Adjustment of Tax Arrears Law 2017 establishes a procedure for settling tax arrears by monthly instalments and provides a waiver of interest and penalties of up to 95% for all nationally imposed taxes. Although the law was enacted in February 2017, it did not take effect immediately in order to allow time for the necessary payment systems to be implemented. The deadline for submitting applications to participate in the scheme was originally set at three months, but was recently extended.
Cyprus and Saudi Arabia recently signed an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation with respect to taxes on income and the prevention of tax evasion. The agreement provides for the exchange of financial and other information in accordance with the relevant article of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Model Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation on Income and on Capital. It will take effect once formal ratification procedures have been completed.
The Merchant Shipping (Fees and Taxing Provisions) Law 2010 requires the Department of Merchant Shipping to assess the community-flagged share of each participant in the tonnage tax scheme as at the third year from the date of opting to be taxed under the scheme. The department recently announced the arrangements for the review as at December 31 2017, which will cover companies that entered the tonnage tax scheme between January 1 2014 and January 1 2015.
The Tax Department recently issued Interpretative Circular 14, which has clarified the application of the Income Tax Law regarding a deemed benefit which is to be assessed on any drawings, loan or other financial facilities granted by a company to a non-resident director or shareholder or their spouse or close relatives. The circular clarifies that the deemed benefit is taxable in full, regardless of the period of residence of the individual in question.
On the basis of experience gained since the implementation of the Protection of Cyprus Ships Against Acts of Piracy and Other Unlawful Acts Law, the Department of Merchant Shipping has increased the maximum number of firearms that approved private ship security contractors are entitled to register from 400 to 600. However, there has been no change to the ratio of two firearms per guard; the change will therefore affect only contractors with more than 200 guards.
A recent administrative court case examined an allegation that an Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) committee established to determine staff promotions had been invalidly constituted. The meeting under review had not been chaired by the EAC chair, as required by the relevant regulations, and no reason for this absence was provided. The court found that the absence of any record of the reasons for the chair's non-attendance at the meeting was sufficient grounds to invalidate the decisions made.
The Cyprus Tax Department recently clarified the treatment of additional taxes imposed under the Assessment and Collection of Taxes Law. The department has specified that any additional tax is to be treated as such, meaning that penalties and interest will be imposed if they are not paid on time. The taxes are included under the term 'corporation tax' and are deductible from accounting profits for the purpose of calculating the deemed distribution for special defence contribution tax.
The Tax Department recently extended the deadline for the submission of country-by-country reports to be filed by the end of 2017. The deadline for reporting entities to submit country-by-country reports for multinational groups for the fiscal year ending December 31 2016 has been extended by two months, while the deadline for Cyprus-resident constituent entities to file their notifications for the fiscal year ending December 31 2017 has been extended to January 15 2018.
Cyprus and India recently signed a new reciprocal agreement on merchant shipping. Among other things, the agreement requires each country to treat the other country's vessels in the same way as it treats its own vessels engaged in international voyages. Further, the taxation of income of any kind derived from the use of vessels in international traffic is governed by the double tax agreement.
A recent case has affirmed that only completed actions can be subject to administrative review, and that an applicant must possess a legitimate interest at three crucial stages in order to pursue an action in the Administrative Court. The case concerned a complaint that a third party had been promoted unfairly in preference to other applicants. However, the applicant had filed his action before the third party accepted the promotion, so that when the action was filed there was no promotion to complain about.
With the extended deadline for the submission of applications for inclusion in the deferred settlement scheme for tax arrears established by Law 4(I)/2017 now less than one month away, the Tax Department has issued a further reminder of the scheme's main features. For example, all tax returns due must have been submitted and all tax liabilities for periods after December 31 2015 must have been settled or be in the process of being settled in accordance with an agreed payment schedule.