Interim orders and injunctions are temporary orders issued by Courts in order to preserve the rights and/or assets of the applying party and/or the “status quo” until the Court reaches its final decision on a particular case. In Cyprus, the jurisdiction of Courts to issue an interim order is governed mainly by the provisions of Article 32 of the Courts of Justice Law 14/1960 (hereinafter “the Law 14/1960”) as well as the relevant provisions of the Civil Procedure Law (Cap. 6), the principles of equity and case law.
For a Court to exercise its discretion and issue an interim order, the following requirements must be satisfied, among with other factors that are taken into account based on the distinguished facts of each case:
a) The Applicant must prove a prima facie serious matter to be heard at trial;
b) There is a possibility that the plaintiff is entitled to the relief sought;
c) Unless the order is issued, it will be difficult or impossible to administer proper justice at a subsequent stage of the procedure;
d) It is just and reasonable for the Court to issue the interim order.
Interim orders can be sought both on an ex-parte basis, without notifying the other party, or by summons. Due to the drastic nature of an interim order issued on an ex-parte basis and the consequences on the respondent, the Court needs to be satisfied that there is an element of urgency while the applicant is under the obligation of full and frank disclosure of all material facts and documents related to the interim order sought. Furthermore, for a Count to grant an interim order on an ex-parte basis, the applicant will be requested to provide a security, in the form of a guarantee, for any amount ordered by the Court in order to cover any potential loss that may be caused to the respondent if the order sought is wrongly obtained. Once the interim order is issued on an ex-parte basis and is served to the party to whom it is addressed to, it becomes binding upon him. Procedurally, either when it comes to an ex-parte interim order or by summons application, the respondent has the right to file an objection to the interim order application.
Injunctions can be distinguished in prohibitory and mandatory orders. A prohibitory injunction aims to prevent the respondent from doing a specified act whereas a mandatory order forces the respondent to do a specified action within the time frame and on conditions explicitly provided on the Court order.
The most common interim orders that are issued by Cyprus Courts include, but are not limited, to the followings:
a) FREEZING INJUNCTIONS (MAREVA INJUNCTIONS) OF ASSETS
Aiming to preserve the applicant’s rights and ensure that the latter will be able to execute any future decision that will be issued in his favor, a Freezing Order (otherwise known as Freezing Injunction or Mareva Injunction) prevents and prohibits the respondent from disposing, transferring or otherwise alienating his assets and/or any assets that are specifically stated in such order.
b) CHABRA (FREEZING) ORDERS
A Chabra Order is essentially a freezing order of assets which is not addressed to a party of the legal proceedings but against a thirty who holds assets for the benefit of the principal defendant, in its capacity as a trustee or nominee of the latter.
c) ANTON PILLER ORDERS (SEARCH ORDERS)
An Anton Piller order, commonly known as a search order, is an interim order which aims to prevent the respondent from interfering or destroying any documents or data or evidence which are essential for the main legal proceedings.
d) NORWICH PHARMACAL ORDERS (DISCOVERING AND TRACING ORDERS)
The purpose of a Norwich Pharmacal Order, commonly known as a tracing or discovering order, is to enable the Applicant to obtain any information as to the identity of a wrongdoer, discover and preserve any significant evidence for the case of the applicant or even trace and preserve information or assets. Such order is most commonly addressed to a third party that has been innocently involved in the wrongdoing.
e) GAGGING ORDERS
A gagging order aims to restrict and prevent the respondent from disclosing the filing or any information concerning the legal proceedings to any third party and/or to the public. Practically, it is sought in conjunction with other types of interim orders.
Injunctions are not merely sought in the context of civil actions but are available in other jurisdictions as well. For instance, Family Courts can issue, inter alia, interim orders for alimony, parental care cases or even freezing orders for cases concerning matrimonial assets while it is very common for an arrest order of a vessel to be issued in the context of an admiralty claim, provided that the above-mentioned requirements are satisfied.
Lastly, it should be highlighted that breaching an Interim Order constitutes a contempt of Court, punishable by either penalty or imprisonment or both.