Court rules that both English and Cypriot law applies to the issue of limitation in relation to alleged torts committed during the Cyprus Emergency (1956-1958)


Re: Sophocleous & Ors v The Secretary of State for Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs & Anor [2018] EWCA Civ 2167

This was an appeal relating to alleged torts committed during the Cyprus Emergency sixty years ago between 1956 and 1958. The claimants sought damages for personal injuries sustained in Cyprus, as a result of alleged assaults perpetrated in Cyprus by members of the UK armed forces, seconded British police officers and servants or agents of the then Colonial Administration, including the Cyprus Police Force.

The common law private international rule used by the courts to determine liability in an English court in respect of foreign torts (the double actionability rule) was prospectively abolished by the Private International Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995 for all torts except defamation. However, s 14(1) of the 1995 Act expressly provides that its provisions do not apply to “acts or omissions giving rise to a claim which occur before the commencement” of the relevant Part of the Act. The 1995 Act has itself been largely superseded by the provisions of the Rome II Convention but that likewise only applies to events occurring after its entry into force. In the previous instance Kerr J, had decided (as a preliminary issue) that English law alone (rather than both English law and Cyprus law) governed the personal injury proceedings brought in this country by 34 individuals.

Longmore LJ giving the lead judgment, allowed the appeal “and set aside the judge’s decision that the law of England and not Cyprus should be applied to the claims. I would answer the first preliminary issue by saying that both the law of Cyprus and the law of England and Wales apply for the purpose of determining limitation”.

Zachary Douglas QC was involved in this case.