The Court rules that English law ought to apply to alleged torts committed during the Cyprus Emergency


Re: Sophocleous & Ors v Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Anor [2018] EWHC 19 (QB)

This case involves 34 claimants alleging torture, assaults, beatings, rape and other acts of violence alleged to have been inflicted from 1956 to 1958 in Cyprus during the “Cyprus Emergency” by agents of the United Kingdom Government and of the then Colonial Administration of Cyprus. The court was asked to consider the preliminary issue of which law (or laws) apply as a matter of private international law to determine the limitation for these claims.  The defendant argued that the tort claims would be statute barred under the limitation law of Cyprus.

On the basis of assumed facts the Court held that the substance of the torts had been committed in Cyprus such that the laws of both England and Cyprus would normally be apply in accordance with the double actionability rule for choice of law in tort.  The Court, however, found that the flexible exception to the double actionability rule should be applied such that the law of England exclusively will determine all aspects of the tort claims including limitation.  It followed that the Foreign Limitation Periods Act 1984, s 1(1) does not apply to the case.

Zachary Douglas QC was involved in this case.