Case of the Day: Alpha Bank Cyprus v. Si Senh

The case of the day is Alpha Bank Cyprus Ltd. v. Si Senh (E.C.J. 2015). Alpha Bank, a Cyprus bank, had lent money to Dau Si Senh and several other residents of the UK for the purchase of immovable property in Cyprus. Alpha sued Si Senh and the others for payment of the loans. The suit was brought in a Cyprus court. On Alpha’s motion, the Cyprus court of first instance ordered service on the UK defendants under the Service Regulation, Regulation No. 1393/2007. The UK defendants were served with Alpha’s ex parte application and a “notice of writ” in Greek and English, the court’s order authorizing service outside of Cyprus, in Greek only, and the affidavit of the translator concerning the faithfulness of the translation of the main document. The UK authorities determine that the Greek document didn’t need to be translated, and so they didn’t include the form prescribed by the Regulation that advises defendants of their right to refuse receipt of untranslated documents.

Si Senh and the others appeared under protest and sought an order declaring the service of process invalid on the grounds that the service did not comply with Article 8 of the Service Regulation or Article D.48, Rule 13 of the Cyprus Code of Civil Procedure. Among other things, they argued that the standard form mentioned in Article 8(1) had not been served on them.

The court of first instance ruled in favor of Si Senh and the others, and Alpha appealed. The Supreme Court of Cyprus, the Ανώτατο Δικαστήριο της Κύπρου, reversed to the extent the lower court had held that the violation of Cyprus law justified invalidating the service. But it referred the question of compliance with the Service Regulation to the European Court of Justice.
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