Failure to file renders the action abandoned and subject to dismissal

Under Order 30 of the Civil Procedure Rules, there is a ninety-day period from the date on which pleadings are deemed completed for the purpose of submitting a summons for directions. Any failure to comply or late compliance renders the action abandoned and subject to dismissal, with cost against the plaintiff.

The issue is related to the speedy administration of justice and in case of omission it is not considered an irregularity that could be remedied, even with the consent of the other party. Any deviation from Order 30 can be raised at any time during the procedure and affects both a lawsuit and an originating summons which is equivalent to primary application in which essential and final remedies are claimed.

The affidavits accompanying the originating summons and the objection are considered pleadings. The provisions of Order 30 apply mutatis mutandis in the cases of the courts of special jurisdiction, such as the Rent Control Court, the Family Court and the Industrial Tribunal Court. In case of non-compliance with the order, the court has no jurisdiction and is bound to dismiss the case as abandoned.

The parties and their lawyers, are obliged to exercise due diligence in the advancement of their case as quickly as possible, and the defendant, as well, in the event of counterclaim. Procedural discipline is a matter of substance and each party must contribute, so that their case is processed quickly and at the least cost. There is no inherent discretion in the court to examine the reason which has led to a delay or non-compliance, since the aforesaid civil procedural rule is mandatory.

The plaintiff in every action is required within 90 days from the pleadings being complete and before taking any fresh step in the action, to issue a summons for directions. If they do not, the defendant may, within a further 15 days, apply to dismiss the action and the court may either dismiss the action or treat the application as a summons for directions. If the time limit elapses, the lawsuit is considered abandoned and the case is brought before the court to be dismissed, with costs against the plaintiff. The term ‘plaintiff’ also covers the party who makes a counterclaim.

The District Court of Limassol with its decision issued in the application/appeal 145/2017, dated January 29, 2020, which concerned an appeal against the decision of the Director of Lands and Survey to register certain properties with AEA in the name of the applicant, examined Order 30, indicating the seriousness of the parties’ obligation to comply.

It emphasised that the above provisions aim to make the parties cooperators in their duty for the speedy administration of justice. It held that the application/appeal brought before the court, is an originating application which is equivalent to a primary procedure, with which substantial and final remedies are claimed and therefore it falls under the term ‘action’ as it is found in article 2 of Law 14/60.

As with the courts of special jurisdiction, which have and follow their own relevant procedural rules, they must nevertheless apply the new Order 30. The same applies to the originating applications filed before the district courts, where no deviation is accepted. The order does not provide that in primary or originating applications the applicant need not issue the summons for directions. If the legislature intended to exclude primary applications, it would state it explicitly in its provisions.

The court concluded, that the above obligation of the applicants to file the provided summons for directions, is mandatory to the advancement of the application or appeal. The applicants’ omission constituted a serious material irregularity, a serious material error, which cannot be remedied. The court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the application/appeal as it has become legally baseless and the court has binding jurisdiction to dismiss it as abandoned.

George Coucounis is a lawyer specialising in the Immovable Property Law, based in Larnaca, e-mail [email protected],