In order for a derivative action to be raised, there must be evidence of fraud and of wrongdoers controlling a company to the extent that the company cannot be made a plaintiff in a lawsuit. Recent case law has confirmed that when shares in a company are held on trust by a nominee shareholder, only they are entitled to raise an action on the company's behalf. In practice, this means that a company's beneficial owner has no locus standi to claim their rights.
The rapid development of technology and the use of digital devices have resulted in a significant transition from the creation of physical to digital data. Consequently, the role of digital forensics in fighting crime is becoming ever more important and it is critical for law firms and courts to develop a well-thought-out strategy for such investigations. This article aims to demystify this subject and define high-level criteria that can be used to identify the needs and admissibility of digital evidence in court.
The House of Representatives recently approved legislation implementing the EU Anti-tax Avoidance Directive in Cyprus with the aim of improving the resilience of the internal market against cross-border tax avoidance practices. The new legislation has once again demonstrated the government's commitment to supporting international efforts to tackle tax avoidance practices.
The Deputy Ministry of Shipping recently updated its policy on the eligibility of ships to be registered under the Cyprus flag. The policy stipulates additional requirements beyond those set out in the Merchant Shipping Registration of Ships, Sales and Mortgages Law and should therefore be read in conjunction with the relevant legal provisions.
The admiralty jurisdiction of the Supreme Court recently ruled in a case concerning a marine accident which occurred when the bow of a sailing boat rammed the starboard side of a speedboat. It was highly disputed whether the sailing boat had been simultaneously using open sails and its engine. In reaching its conclusion, the court considered the evidence and the Rules of the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
The Deputy Ministry of Shipping recently announced its decision to replace the International Safety Management Code Form and the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code Form with a new consolidated form in an effort to reduce paperwork and avoid the duplication of information. All interested entities are requested to use the new form to declare the particulars of companies or ships under the code and to comply with relevant circulars.
The Supreme Court recently examined the issue of causality arising from a road traffic accident. The first-instance court had found the defendant guilty of causing death by want of precaution or carelessness and of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of fatigue. The Supreme Court rejected the subsequent appeal and confirmed that, despite having taken a simplistic approach, the first-instance court had reached the correct conclusion by applying common sense and experience.
As of 1 March 2019, employees, pensioners, state officials and income earners in Cyprus must contribute 1.7% of their income to the General Health System, while self-employed individuals must contribute 2.55% of their income. Private employers must also make General Health System contributions of 1.85% on emoluments made to employees, while the state must make an additional contribution of 1.65% of the incomes of employees, self-employed individuals, pensioners and government officials.
The Judicial Practice Code was recently amended to provide that no judge, whether sitting alone or as a member of a panel of judges of an adjudicating court, can hear a case in which a party is represented by a lawyer who is a family member of the judge or works in the same firm or office as a family member of the judge. The recent media focus in Cyprus on the alleged impartiality of certain judges was the impetus behind the changes.
The Cyprus Flag Administration recently imposed additional requirements on the development, implementation and certification of safety management systems over and above those which have been set out in the International Safety Management Code since 1998. The consolidated edition of the additional requirements replaces a previous version published in 2006 and recognised organisations are required to implement its terms and conditions immediately.
The Cyprus Tax Department recently issued a circular giving guidance on the tax residence provisions for individuals introduced by Law 119(I)/2017. The circular makes clear that an individual who holds office as a director of a Cyprus tax-resident company and delegates this office to an alternate or nominee director at any time during the tax year does not qualify for Cyprus tax residence under the 60-day rule.
The Supreme Court recently overturned a first-instance court's decision to reject a request to amend a statement of claim under Rule 25 of the Civil Procedure Rules on the grounds that the amendment amounted to a new cause of action. The Supreme Court found that the proposed amendments merely referenced actions by the defendants which supported their existing claim and did not amount to a new cause of action.
The minister of finance recently announced that the statutory rate of interest on judgments pursuant to Article 33 of the Courts of Justice Law has been reduced to 2% per annum with effect from 1 January 2019. This rate will apply for the entirety of 2019.
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 1 January 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 31 December 2018, which will be used as the basis for the notional interest deduction for the 2019 tax year.
The recent Ministerial Order on Safety Zones was published with the purpose of ensuring the safety of the Stena IceMax drillship and the safety of navigation during the period that it will be used to drill in the Cyprus Continental Shelf and exclusive economic zone. The order establishes a safety zone at a distance of 500 metres from the drillship. Unless a vessel has obtained the requisite licence from the Deputy Ministry of Shipping, it cannot (bar a few exceptions) enter, navigate or remain within the safety zone.
The Ministry of Finance recently announced that the double tax agreement with Saudi Arabia – which was signed on 3 January 2018 – will enter into force on 1 March 2019. The agreement will apply to amounts paid or credited on or after 1 January 2020 with regard to taxes withheld at source and to tax years beginning on or after 1 January 2020 with regard to other taxes.
The Deputy Ministry of Shipping (DMS) recently issued the 2016 Amendments to the Code of the Maritime Labour Convention. The amendments affect maritime labour certificates and declarations of maritime labour compliance. In this regard, the DMS has announced that existing certificates and declarations will remain valid until their expiry date.
Limitation periods in Cyprus were suspended for many years. However, in 2012 the Limitation of Actionable Rights Law was enacted to reintroduce time limits for the filing of civil claims. In a recent case, the District Court of Limassol held that the law on limitation periods, together with Article 30.2 of the Constitution, imposes specific time limits to ensure the rule of finality and distinguish between bona fide and mala fide civil and criminal procedures.
The Tax Department recently announced a time extension for banks and other financial institutions to submit their corporate tax returns for the 2017 tax year. Unlike other companies, which must submit their tax returns electronically, banks and other financial institutions must submit hard copy tax returns, giving additional details of their business, by the end of the year following the tax year in question.
The Merchant Shipping (Fees and Taxing Provisions) Law 2010 requires that, in order to qualify for the tonnage tax scheme, EU-flagged ships must account for at least a specified minimum percentage of the taxpayer's fleet. The Deputy Ministry of Shipping recently announced the outcome of its review of companies that entered the tonnage tax system between 1 January 2015 and 1 January 2016.