Packages and Legal Services – Terms and Conditions of Engagement.
Effective Date: 06.03.2018
- Our firm: R. Vrahimis & Associates LLC (“we” “us” and “our”) also known as “R. Vrahimis & Associates” is a law firm practicing as private limited liability company fully owned by Lawyers, registered in the Republic of Cyprus with Registration Number 377854. Our registered office is situated at 31 Chr. Sozou street, Hermes House, Office 203, 1096 Nicosia, Tel. +35722872200, Fax +35722872202, email@example.com. By law, all our members (shareholders), lawyer employees, lawyer associates and lawyer affiliates are lawyers registered in Cyprus. We are authorised and regulated by the Legal Council and the Cyprus Bar Association and our professional code of ethics can be found here. The term “lawyer” in Cyprus may be considered as analogous to the term “Advocate”, “Attorney”, “Legal Practitioner”, “Solicitor” and “Barrister”.
- Governing Law and Jurisdiction: This agreement and our relationship is governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Cyprus. A claim may only be brought against us or against you (in contract, tort or otherwise) if it can be brought in Cypriot law without reference to the law of any other country or your country. You agree that the courts of the Republic of Cyprus shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any claim you make against us or against you arising out of or in connection with this agreement (including non-contractual claims). You also agree that this does not preclude us from bringing proceedings against you, whether concurrently or otherwise, in any other court of competent jurisdiction (including for the recovery of our fees).
- General: This document records the scope of our engagement when you buy any retainer package and contains information about costs, personnel, and other aspects of that engagement and it establishes the terms of business which will apply generally to any service rendered by us to you.
- Language: You expressly agree that the working language for the purposes of this agreement is English. Any legal advice or opinion given to you for the purposes of our engagement shall be given in English.
- From whom we will take instructions to advise: We will receive our instructions only from you, the purchaser of any one of our retainer packages, whether purchased alone or as a group where applicable, under the following circumstances and provisions:
- You purchase a retainer package, and
- Your account is activated, and
- We shall only receive our instructions from you for the duration of the validity of the package unless a separate agreement is made between you and us.
Unless and until notified to the contrary, we will assume that no other person is authorised to instruct us on your behalf in relation to all aspects of our work.
- Scope of our engagement: According to the package that you have purchased you expressly agreed that the retainer is activated upon your declared arrival to Cyprus and is valid for the days of validity of the package and terminated thereafter. You have asked us to give you advise for matters arising during your visit in Cyprus, in relation to:
- Basic Package: Emergency advice upon your declared arrival to Cyprus valid for the next fifteen consecutive days on:
- Personal injury e.g. injuries motor vehicle, bicycle or pedestrian accidents, trip/slip and fall and other types of premises or occupier’s liability injuries etc.
- Criminal deprivation of property e.g. by appropriation, theft, false pretences, fraud, larceny, burglary, robbery etc.
- Consumer problems e.g. billing problems, misleading advertising, retail sales and consumer rights, product safety, travel issues such as loss of property/luggage, cancellation of flights/ substandard accommodation, food poisoning etc.
- Extended Package: Emergency advice upon your declared arrival to Cyprus valid for the next twenty consecutive days on:
- All matters included in the Basic package, and
- Motor vehicle accidents e.g. insurance problems, fault and liability etc.
- All traffic violations.
- Public order offences and Assaults e.g. assault and battery, affray brawls, disorderly misconduct and all offences against public order.
- Premium Package: Emergency advice upon your declared arrival to Cyprus valid for the next thirty consecutive days on:
- All matters included in the Extended package, and
- Criminal damage e.g. any intentional or reckless damage.
- All illegal substance use.
- Sexual offences e.g. harassment, including indecent assaults, rape etc.
- All arrests by the police.
- Regardless of what package you have purchased: You can also use your VIP priority status to discuss any legal problem you may be facing, whether it is covered by your retainer package or not by:
- Booking an appointment with one of our lawyers and visiting us in our chambers in Nicosia, and/or
- Requesting an on-site visit from one of our lawyers to assist you on the spot. In such a case we shall endeavour to be with you as soon as possible, having regard to our daily workload, your distance from our chambers, the time of your call and other relevant factors that may affect our response to your request for legal assistance and advice.
- Broad Interpretation of matters covered: We shall endeavour and are committed to give you discounted rates whenever possible in “grey areas” falling under the matters covered by your package for which you can request emergency advice over the telephone or ask for discounted hourly rates. Therefore the package descriptions shall be interpreted broadly but not loosely. Our aim is to be of assistance to you and to leave you satisfied for all our services, including our hourly rate fees. Please call us if you are unsure whether your case is covered by the retainer and it would be our pleasure to be of help. However, we would kindly ask you to use seriousness, common sense and sensibility in using our services.
Unless otherwise agreed, our advice and legal assistance will relate to Cyprus law only.
- Our client: For the purposes of the above matters our client is you, if you have purchased the basic or the extended retainer packages, or you and another three members of your family or your traveling group whose details you have given to us upon purchasing and paying for the premium retainer package. We shall not be advising any other relative, friend or third person.
- Affiliates and Other Third Parties: For the purposes of our engagement, our client is only you, and not your affiliates (whether shareholders, parent, subsidiaries, partners, members, directors, officers or otherwise). Accordingly for conflict of interest purposes, we may represent another client with interests adverse to your affiliates.
- Our engagement for you does not create any rights in or liabilities to any third party.
- Purpose/Use of Advice: Our advice is for your benefit only and will be given in the context of the above particular matters according to the package that you have purchased. You should not rely on it in any other context.
- Emergency Calls: You may, according to the package that you have purchased, make a short call to ask for our assistance in emergency situations, to book an appointment in our chambers or to request on-site visit by one of our lawyers. Please keep this call as short as possible. We can only give you general emergency directions which shall enable you to handle the situation as smoothly as possible until you receive proper legal advice or opinion e.g. to remain at the scene of the accident, to call the police, to file a complaint with your tour operator, to remain silent when arrested until you speak to a lawyer etc. This advice shall be accurate and appropriate for your situation but it cannot in any circumstances be considered as full and complete or proper legal advice or opinion and it shall not aim to answer all your non-emergency queries. We can only offer you proper legal advice and opinion when we are face to face with you, either in our chambers or on-site e.g. at the scene of an accident, or in the police station or even at your hotel if you wish to pay for the extra cost of an on-site visit.
- Persons involved in advising you: Any of our shareholders (lawyer “partners”), associates or employees (senior lawyers, associate lawyers or junior lawyers) may carry out the day to day work on your matter. We are not obliged to use senior or associate lawyers on you mater, and simple matters are usually dealt by junior lawyers, but where appropriate, they will involve other colleagues to assist and a senior or associate lawyer may deal with your matter if necessary. Please note that your relationship is with us and not directly with any individual lawyer of our law firm.
- Hourly rates and fees: Our fees are based on our standard normal hourly charging rates for legal work by our junior lawyers.
- If you specifically request the services of a senior or associate lawyer different hourly rates shall apply, and these shall be subject to a separate agreement made between you and us. The rates applicable to specific lawyers will depend on their seniority and speciality.
- We shall charge you both for matters covered by your retainer and for matters outside your retained coverage with hourly rates corresponding to the specific package that you have purchased as follows:
|TYPE OF ASSISTANCE
|In-house appointments for retained legal advice and assistance matters.
|On-site visits for retained legal advice and assistance matters.
|In-house appointments for legal advice and assistance for matters not covered by the retainer.
|On-site visits for legal advice and assistance for matters not covered by the retainer.
* On-site visits in Nicosia shall be charged at the hourly rate of €135/hr. Hourly rates do not include travel expenses which shall be charged at €0.50/km.
ǂ Traveling time shall be charged and it shall be priced at the hourly rate.
- All our services shall bear a VAT surcharge at 19%.
- For the agreed period of your travel to Cyprus, the rates shall be fixed according to the package that you have purchased. Subsequently however, these rates are subject to periodic adjustment by us, based on factors such as increased costs affecting our practice and enhanced expertise and experience of the lawyers and other personnel working on the matter, and the adjusted rates will apply to all services performed thereafter.
- In addition to our fees, there may be certain expenses for which you will be responsible e.g. stamp duty. We will consult with you before incurring any substantial expense on your behalf.
- On your request we may in the course of our engagement, as agent on your behalf, engage any other law firms in Cyprus or in other jurisdictions to provide certain services. These services will be provided on their standard terms of business.
- In the course of our engagement, we may need to engage any other registered lawyer affiliated with us e.g. in cases where the emergency calls for immediate on-site visit and none of your lawyers may be available for some time. These lawyers shall be working in close collaboration with us and on our instructions and they shall be bound by the same terms and conditions of our engagement.
- You will be responsible for payment of our fees on the above matters.
- Your Contribution: We will need information and instructions from you to do our work. If you are able to provide these quickly, we will be able to do our job more efficiently and cost-effectively. Delay in giving us information or in telling us what you want will often mean that we cannot provide a completely satisfactory service and may result in an increase in the fees payable.
- We will expect you to comply with any applicable statutory and other legal requirements, including those relating to money-laundering or any laws that require the provision of financial information.
- In contentious issues you are required to take particular care about the accuracy and speed of your instructions. You or a director, senior officer or manager will have to verify the truth of your case. You will also be required to sign a retainer letter detailing your contribution.
- In contentious issues you shall be required to disclose all documents in your possession and make affidavits. Special rules exist for these and for your convenience they are included in APPENDIX A of the Terms and Conditions of Engagement. Failure to disclose to us all the documents in your possession, to make an affidavit, or to fully explain any matter regarding your case may result in receiving wrong legal advice or in losing your case.
- Cost Estimates: We may, on your request, make a cost estimate for any matter upon which you wish to instruct us before you make any commitment. For each matter you instruct us, we will try to provide the best information we can about our likely charges. However, this may not always be possible where we are required to advise at short notice or the amount of time likely to be involved or other relevant factors may be uncertain. In such circumstances, and unless otherwise agreed, our normal hourly charging rates will apply.
- Payment of fees, money on account of fees and disbursements: In certain cases, and particularly when litigation is involved or when we may need to incur substantial expense on your behalf, we may require you to provide a payment on account of the costs and disbursements anticipated in the following weeks or months. It is a condition of our retainer to ask clients to let us have sums of money from time to time on account of our fees and any disbursements which it is anticipated may be incurred. According to the estimated cost we shall require a pre-paid retainer which shall be agreed and between us, and shall be paid to us before we do any work for you. Also:
- We expect the on account sum (and any further sums on account) to be paid promptly and, if it is not, we reserve the right to terminate our retainer on giving reasonable notice to you.
- Any money which we take on account will be held in our client account until required to meet our fees and disbursements. Upon your request we will account to you and render a statement of account, a bill or the expenses incurred.
- If for any reason a matter is not completed, a charge will be made in respect of the work we have done, unless otherwise agreed with you.
- If, in connection with our engagement in this or other matters for you or your affiliates, we (or any of our affiliated lawyers) are required by a competent authority to deliver documentation to such authority, to review such documentation in order to comply with our or its obligations to such authority or to you or otherwise to spend time in relation to such issues or to incur any related third party expenditure (including but not limited to Counsel’s fees, accounting, tax and other advice) you undertake (notwithstanding any prior termination of our retainer) promptly upon invoicing of such amounts to make payment to us and acknowledge that it is your responsibility to account to us and to any third parties for all our and their fees, costs and expenses.
- For on-site visits we require prepayment by credit card on our Paypal account firstname.lastname@example.org for the estimated time of the visit plus traveling time. On rare occasions, if the client does not have access to a smartphone (e.g. when under arrest) we shall accept cash on arrival.
- Unpaid bills: It is a condition of our retainer that all bills, interim and final, are paid promptly. Also:
- If a bill is rendered and not paid within one month we reserve the right to terminate our retainer on this and any other matters on which we are acting for you, on giving reasonable notice to you. We may also charge interest and recovery costs on the outstanding amount. The interest and recovery costs will be at the rate specified at the time under the About Combating Late Payments in Commercial Transactions Law 123(I)/2012.
- You will be responsible to us for our fees and disbursements regardless of any order obtained for payment of your costs by another party. In any event, most orders against other parties for payment of costs enable recovery from them of only a proportion of the actual costs, and depend on the ability of the other party to pay. You should also bear in mind that if your proceedings fail at any stage you may be ordered to pay the costs of the other party as you go along and at the end of the proceedings.
- If you fail to pay us fees owing in respect of work done by an affiliate lawyer or any other law firms in Cyprus or in other jurisdictions engaged by us to provide certain services to you in respect of your matter we shall be entitled to assign to them or any of them the claim against you so that they can pursue the claim personally.
- E-mail: We shall assume that you are agreeable to our communicating with you by e-mail unless you advise us to the contrary.
- Please bear in mind that such communications may not always be confidential and that privilege may be lost as a result. Our e-mails to you will not be encrypted but shall only contain a privacy statement at the end.
- We make reasonable attempts to exclude from our e-mails any virus or other defect that might harm a computer or IT system. However it is your responsibility to put in place measures to protect your computer or IT system, and we do not accept liability for any loss or damage that may arise from the receipt or use of electronic communications sent by us in good faith.
- Conflict of interest: It is probable, albeit very unlikely, that two clients who have purchased one of our packages may wish to use our services regarding a matter that involves each other e.g. if two of our clients assault each other. In such a situation we would have a conflict of interest to handle both cases. Such circumstances create a risk that our professional judgement or actions regarding the interests of one client will be unduly influenced by the interest of another client. There may also be situations where the goals of our work for you may conflict with such personal benefit which in itself may not be wrong, but may become objectionable when connected to the goals of our work for you. Our conflict of interest policy that applies to you is to:
- Ask for details of your matter that shall allow us to identify any conflict of interest situation as soon as possible.
- If we realise that two of our clients are involved in the same matter in opposite sides, then we shall immediately:
- Cease to represent the client who has asked for our services last (the “second client”) and immediately inform the second client about this.
- Continue to represent the client who has asked for our services first (the “first” client).
- Refer the second client to another registered lawyer affiliated with us but working for another law firm.
- If a client is referred to another firm they shall continue to enjoy all the benefits and privileges of their package and we would be responsible to ensure this with the affiliated lawyer.
- Legal professional privilege: Being lawyers practicing in Cyprus we are bound by legal professional privilege.
- Overview: This protects all lawyer-client communications from being disclosed without the permission of the client. The privilege is that of the client and not that of the lawyer. In practical terms, any document the dominant purpose of which is either:
- To give you advice as to your legal rights and obligations, including advice as to what should prudently and sensibly be done in the relevant legal context. This type of privilege is called legal advice privilege and applies whether or not litigation is pending or contemplated. In this situation you need to be careful to establish who will communicate with your lawyer, in order to ensure that the communication or any documents will be covered by legal advice privilege. This is because the Courts have decided that legal advice privilege will only cover communications made between lawyers and an individual within an organisation who has been given the task of communicating with the lawyers for the purpose of giving or receiving advice. In other words, legal advice privilege will not apply to communications between just any individual at an organisation and lawyers – it has to be an individual who has been given the job of communicating. Or
- To assist your Lawyers in the conduct of litigation, will be privileged from production. Where, however, relevant documents are produced predominantly for some other purpose, for example minutes of meetings, then those documents will generally not be privileged from production. This type of privilege is called litigation privilege and applies only where litigation is pending or contemplated. If you can claim privilege for a document brought into existence for litigation which does not then take place, that document will remain privileged in other proceedings, unless you lose or waive the privilege.
- Status of privileged documents in relation to later proceedings: Pre-existing documents do not become privileged simply because you at some time submit them to a lawyer, or because they are obtained for the purposes of litigation (whether contemplated or commenced). They will be privileged only if they were prepared by lawyer or client for the purpose of giving or receiving legal advice.
- Loss of privilege: If you wish to maintain privilege for communications with your Lawyer you must be careful not to disclose any such document, or any part of it, to a third party (including your auditors), and certainly not to any other party to the action. You should also be careful only to distribute legal advice or any communications from your lawyer on a “need to know” basis within your organisation. You must similarly take care not to disclose to third parties or to anyone within your organisation any documents brought into existence for the purpose of litigation (pending or contemplated) which would otherwise be privileged.
- Liability for money held in client accounts: Any risk that money held on your behalf in a deposit-taking institution on client account is lost as a result of a collapse of that institution will be dealt with as provided in this paragraph. Please note that under EU law any money amounting to €100,000 or less is guaranteed from such loss.
- We shall place any money held by us on your behalf in a bank on client account with a reputable bank. However, we shall not be liable to repay money lost in the event that the bank in question collapses or money held in a client account is lost by the bank for any reason whatsoever.
- In addition, we will not be liable to repay money which is held on your behalf in a third party lawyer’s, licensed real estate agent’s, insurance company’s or agent’s or our lawyer’s or legal executive’s client account by a deposit-taking institution, if that institution collapses or the money is lost by that institution for any reason whatsoever.
- Exclusions and limitations on our Liability: By “Losses” in this paragraph and its subparagraphs we mean all demands, claims, actions, proceedings, damages, payments, losses, costs, expenses or other liabilities.
- Liability Cap: Our maximum aggregate liability to you in relation to the matters contained in this agreement, howsoever arising, is limited to and will not exceed €0.4 million (a ‘’Liability Cap”). By agreeing with these terms and conditions of engagement you confirm that you understand and accept this. This Liability Cap applies to our aggregate liability to you (together with any associated party for whom you are acting as agent in relation to the relevant matter on any basis (including for example contract or negligence) for all losses arising from or in connection with our services in relation to the relevant matter.Please let us know now if you would like to discuss this further or would like us to take extra professional insurance coverage for your particular matter.
- Proportional liability: There is a risk that we will be prejudiced by any limitation or exclusion of liability which you agree with any other person (for example, another adviser) in connection with a matter in which we are advising you. This is because such a limitation or exclusion of liability might also operate to limit the amount which we could recover from that other person by way of contribution if we were required to pay you more than our proper share of the liability. Accordingly, in order that our position is not adversely affected by any limitation or exclusion of another person’s liability, you agree that we will not be liable to you for any amount which we would have been able to recover from the other person by way of indemnity, contribution or otherwise but are unable to recover because you agreed, or are treated as having agreed, with them any limitation or exclusion on their liability.
- Third party liability: If you start proceedings against us for loss or damage and there is another person (for example, another adviser) who is liable (or potentially liable) to you in respect of the same loss or damage, then you will (if we so request) join them into the proceedings. This is subject to any legal prohibition against your joining them in that way.
- No claim against individual employees/company officers: You accept that we have an interest in limiting, and we hereby limit, the personal liability and exposure to litigation of employees (including but not limited to senior lawyers, associate lawyers, junior lawyers, pupil lawyers, paralegals, secretaries, receptionists, telephone operators, messengers, private bailiffs, investigators, affiliate lawyers), shareholders, company officers and consultants and that we are a limited liability entity. Accordingly in instructing us you agree that you will not bring any claim personally against any individual employee, consultant, affiliate, or company officer in respect of Losses which you suffer or incur, directly or indirectly, in connection with our services. The provisions of this paragraph will not limit or exclude our (the law firm’s) liability for the acts or omissions of our employees, consultants or company officials.The provisions of this paragraph are intended for the benefit of our employees, consultants and company officials but the terms and conditions of our engagement may be varied without the consent of all or any of those persons.
- Limitation on exclusions: The above exclusions and limitations will not operate to exclude or limit any liability for fraud or reckless disregard of professional obligations or liabilities which cannot lawfully be limited or excluded.
- Complaints: If you are unhappy with any aspect of the services you have received from us, or about the bill we hope to be able to resolve the matter to your satisfaction.
- Initially you can contact Mrs Kelly Themistocleous on +357-22872200 and attempt to resolve the matter over the phone by discussing it with her.
- If you are not satisfied with the outcome you may request details of our written complaints procedure and file a written complaint with us.
- If your complaint relates to a code of conduct infarction and you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint, you may be able to ask the Lawyer’s Disciplinary Board to consider your matter. The Lawyer’s Disciplinary Board can be found at: 1 Appeli Street, Ayioi Omoloyites 1403, Nicosia, Cyprus Tel: +357-22889206 Fax: +357-22662310. You can bring a complaint to the Lawyer’s Disciplinary Board at any time after receiving a final written response from us about your complaint. For every complaint filed you must pay a fee to the Lawyer’s Disciplinary Board.
- If your complaint relates to any of our bills and you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint, you may apply for the bill to be taxed (assessed) either by the court (if litigation is involved) or by the Extra Judicial Reward Committee of the Cyprus Bar Association (if no litigation is involved), or a combination of the two (if both are involved). The Extra Judicial Reward Committee of the Cyprus Bar Association can be found at Florinis 11, off.101, 1stFloor 1065, Nicosia, Cyprus P.O.Box. 21446 1508, Nicosia, Cyprus, Tel: +357-22873300, Fax: +357-22873013, email: email@example.com.
- Termination of Services: Unless a separate agreement is made between you and us our lawyer-client relationship will be considered terminated upon expiration of the validity of the package you have purchased, or upon our completion of the specific services that you have retained us to perform, or if open-ended services are to be provided, when more than one month has elapsed from the last time you requested, and we furnished any billable services to you.
- The fact that we may inform you from time to time of developments in the law which may be of interest to you, by newsletter or otherwise, should not be understood as a revival of a lawyer-client relationship. We have no obligation to inform you of such developments in the law unless we are specifically engaged to do so.
- If, in connection with our engagement in the retained or other matters for you or your affiliates, we (or any of our affiliates) is required by a competent authority to deliver documentation to such authority, to review such documentation in order to comply with our or its obligations to such authority or to you or otherwise to spend time in relation to such issues or to incur any related third party expenditure (including but not limited to Counsel’s fees, accounting, tax and other advice) you undertake (notwithstanding any prior termination of our retainer) promptly upon invoicing of such amounts to make payment to us and acknowledge that it is your responsibility to account to us and to any third parties for all our and their fees, costs and expenses.
- Documents and Other Papers: We will retain your papers during the transaction and afterwards while there is any money owing to us.
- After completion of the transaction and payment of any money owing, we will, if you wish, send your papers to you. Alternatively, we will retain them in our possession for an appropriate period, after which, all, except deeds, certificates and other important original documents will be disposed of.
- We will take care of your deeds, documents and other papers as long as they remain in our possession. However, should any of them be lost or damaged as a result of events beyond our reasonable control, we will not be liable for their replacement or for any resultant loss.
- Notes of meetings are taken for our own use and remain our property at all times.
- Inside Information: The following applies if you are a listed company and are subject to compliance by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission. You should inform us when you provide us with any information in relation to your company which you consider to be inside information for the purposes of the Market Abuse Law 102(I)/2016, the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) 596/2014 and the Corrigendum to Regulation (EU) No. 596/2014 on Market Abuse. In such case will make arrangements to draw up and maintain an insider list in relation to your company, and will provide you with a copy on request. We will take necessary measures to ensure that those individuals whose names are on the insider list acknowledge the legal and regulatory duties entailed (including dealing restrictions) and are aware of the sanctions for misuse or improper circulation of inside information.
- Money Laundering: Legislation requires lawyers to take various steps to guard against money laundering. We will normally need formal evidence of your identity and proof of residence. This may be necessary even though we have acted for you before.
- When we are dealing with a “politically exposed person” (as defined under the law), we are obliged to establish the source of wealth and source of the funds which are involved in the proposed business relationship or transaction. We cannot act without this information.
- We do not accept funds in cash unless for small amounts. If you were to circumvent this policy by depositing cash direct with our bank we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of the funds.
- We may be obliged to report information about possible money laundering and terrorist financing to the authorities, notwithstanding our normal duty of confidentiality. If we have to make a report we may not be able to tell you that we have done so, because this may be prohibited by law. Where the law permits, we will tell you about any potential money laundering problem and explain what actions may be necessary.
- Financial Services: We are not authorised as a financial service provider. If, while we are acting for you, you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised to provide the necessary advice.
- However, we may provide certain limited investment advice services where these are closely linked to the legal work we are doing for you. This is because we are members of the Cyprus Bar Association which is a designated professional body that may oversee our activities for these purposes.
- The Legal Council is the independent regulatory arm of the Cyprus Bar Association. The Disciplinary Council is the independent complaints-handling arm of the Cyprus Bar Association. If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
- Our role in any transaction is that of legal advisor and it is not part of our function to give advice on the merits of any transaction in investments. When providing our services we will assume that you have decided or will decide to negotiate or enter into any such transaction solely on the advice you may receive from a person authorised under Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission that regulates Investment Firms or Fund managers. No communication from us is intended or should be construed as an invitation or inducement to you or to anyone else to engage in investment activity.
- Commercial Mediation: Some of our members are registered mediators and are allowed to carry on mediation activity in commercial cases, which broadly includes legal advice or opinion on matters of commercial law.
- Administrative Service Providers: We are an authorised Administrative Service Provider and in this capacity we can act as directors, secretaries, shareholders, providers of registered office address, we can open bank accounts, open client’s accounts and we can act as administers of trusts and provide fiduciary services. As such we are regulated by the Cyprus Bar Association that is in turn compliant to the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission.
DISCLOSURE OF DOCUMENTS AND AFFIDAVITS – GUIDANCE FOR CLIENTS
- Disclosure: The Civil Procedure Rules require that parties to litigation be open with each other at an early stage about the evidence in the case. They do so to encourage settlement and to save the parties’ costs. It follows that we may advise you to disclose the key documents in the case at some point before the court itself orders disclosure. During proceedings you will have to give disclosure by listing the documents in your possession, whether or not they are helpful to your case. You may not have to produce for inspection certain documents protected by privilege, but their existence will still have to be disclosed in the list. You will also, of course, receive a list from the other parties. The duty to disclose is potentially very wide-ranging, so it is imperative that you retain all documents (including “electronic” documents) and the decision as to whether documents need to be disclosed should be left to us as your lawyers. Your obligations in respect of documentary evidence obviously have a very significant bearing on your case. If you have any questions at all, about any of the matters discussed in this paragraph, please contact us at the earliest opportunity.
- Duty to disclose: During the proceedings you will most likely be ordered to give disclosure. This means disclosing to the court and to other parties to the action documents which are or have been in your control. To give disclosure you are required to make a reasonable search for:
- The documents on which you rely, and
- The documents which adversely affect your case, and
- The documents which support another party’s case; and
- The documents which adversely affect another party’s case.
The list must also include all documents falling into the disclosable categories which you used to have but no longer have and, if you can recall, how you came to no longer have them. The definition of “document” is very broad.
- Reasonable Search: In assessing what sort of search is reasonable the court will take into account various factors including the complexity of the proceedings, the number of documents involved, the expense of the search for particular documents and the significance of any document likely to be located. Note that the search may need to cover electronic material. You may have to make an affidavit saying whether there are any documents, including electronic documents, for which you have not searched.
- Inspection: Once you disclose a document by listing it the other party automatically has a right to inspect it, unless you have a right to withhold inspection (for example because the document is privileged).
- Documents created in the future: The obligation of disclosure is a continuing one and applies to all documents whenever and by whoever they are produced or received. It does not matter that they may have been created after legal proceedings have been commenced.
- Failure to disclose: If a party to proceedings fails to comply with his disclosure obligations, the court has powers to take contempt proceedings against that party.
- A “document”: For these purposes a document is very widely defined and includes copies and all electronic records, , sms messages etc. A party need not disclose more than one copy of the same document, unless a copy contains a marking or other feature which in itself falls into one of the disclosable categories. “Documents” therefore include correspondence, including all recoverable email correspondence, whether or not “deleted”, reports, statistics, internal memoranda, minutes of board or management meetings, microfiches, notes (manuscript or otherwise), jottings (however informal and in whatever form), drafts, tape recordings, diary entries, records stored on computer discs, hard drives, cd’s, dvd’s, flash drives, including computer back up software and documents which have been “deleted” and additional information stored and associated with electronic documents, known as metadata.
- Control: A document is in your “control” if it:
- Is in your physical possession, or
- You have or had a right to possession of it, or
- You have or had a right to inspect or take copies of it.
- Confidential documents: You must disclose all documents relating to issues in the proceedings, regardless of whether the documents are confidential or private.
- Privileged documents: Some of the documents listed may be protected from production and inspection. In other words, other parties to the proceedings are not entitled to see these limited categories of documents. The list must nevertheless state the grounds for claiming privilege for these categories and we will need to see all such documents to confirm whether they need to be disclosed. Privilege can be claimed for three categories:
- Documents protected by legal professional privilege.
- Documents tending to incriminate or expose to a penalty.
- Documents the production of which would harm public interest.
- Use of documents disclosed or received by you in the proceedings: You are not allowed to use documents disclosed to you by the other parties except for the purposes of the litigation unless the party who disclosed the document has agreed, the court has given permission or the document has been read to or by the court or referred to at a hearing in public. The other parties will be similarly bound.
- “Without prejudice” communications: All negotiations, written or oral, genuinely aimed at a settlement between parties, may be excluded from evidence in litigation. However, merely stating that a letter, telephone conversation or meeting is “without prejudice” will not necessarily make it so. Therefore, you should avoid any discussion with another party of issues in dispute between you, without first seeking legal advice.
- General good practice: As a matter of good practice, we would recommend that you take the following practical steps:
- Take care, when disposing of documents, to ensure that no documents which may be relevant to proceedings are destroyed. This includes any notes, no matter how informal (for example, jottings on post-it labels).
- Identify and label all documents produced specifically for the purposes of proceedings: for example “Privileged and confidential – produced for R. Vrahimis & Associates”.
- Keep all such privileged documents separately from documents which may have to be disclosed. We would recommend that you do this by means of separately designated files.
- Label as such, and keep in a special file, any document given to you by your solicitors (for example a copy of a letter or memorandum in relation to which your comments may be required). This will avoid questions as to when that document was created or came into your possession. Take care that privilege is not inadvertently lost by allowing a third party (such as your accountants) to see any such documents.
- No-one should alter their usual practice radically (to do so could attract adverse comment from other parties) but, before any document is produced, consider whether the document may be relevant to the proceedings and, if so, whether it could be damaging. If you are in any doubt as to whether a document may be privileged from inspection by the other side, please ask for advice before you create it. This applies to all electronic documents as it does to paper documents.
- Do not communicate with the other parties about the issues in dispute unless you can be sure that it is on a “without prejudice” basis.
- Affidavits: These are signed declarations made under oath or affirmation that its makers believe that the facts stated in them are true. The facts stated in an affidavit do not need to be in the direct knowledge of the maker of the statement provided the source of the knowledge is stated. Where the claimant is a company, the affidavit must be signed by a person holding a senior position in the company e.g. Directors, Chief Executives and Managers. This person must state his position in the company and confirm that he is authorised to sign the statement. In exceptional cases concerning procedural matters only one of our lawyers may make an affidavit on your behalf. Verifying a document containing a false statement without an honest belief in its truth may give rise to proceedings for contempt of court or perjury, which may result in imprisonment. Accordingly, if you have any doubts as to the accuracy of any statement that you are verifying you should not hesitate to discuss the matter with us.