In Burlaka Alina Evgenievna and others v Noa Circle Ltd and others, action No. 525/2022, 16 March 2023, the District Court of Nicosia refused to stay the enforcement of disclosure orders (known as "Norwich Pharmacal orders") against innocent third parties, pending an appeal filed by the respondents against the orders. The Court held that the disclosure of information prior to the adjudication of the appeal did not amount to exceptional circumstances justifying the suspension of the disclosure orders.
The applicants obtained Norwich Pharmacal orders against Cypriot service providers in relation to a large-scale cross-border fraud. Before their compliance with the disclosure orders, the respondents filed an appeal against the first-instance judgment, followed by an application to stay the enforcement of the disclosure orders, pending the adjudication of the appeal.
The respondents argued that, if the enforcement of the Norwich Pharmacal orders was not stayed, they would be obliged to comply with the disclosure orders prior to the adjudication of the appeal. This, they argued, would cause irreparable damage, because even if they were subsequently successful in the appeal, the information would have already been disclosed.
The Court dismissed the application, holding that the respondents had failed to demonstrate exceptional circumstances that would justify the stay of the orders. The Court noted that the applicable principles for the stay of enforcement of Norwich Pharmacal orders, pending appeal, are the same principles applicable for the stay of the enforcement of a judgment or order in general. In reaching its conclusion, the Court also took into consideration that potential delay in the enforcement of the disclosure orders would raise issues of limitation for the applicants who were at risk of being unable to receive the information on time in order to file proceedings against the tortfeasors.
The Court's judgment is in line with the approach taken by other first-instance judges, who appeared to move away from a strict interpretation of the Supreme Court's case law on this issue, which was previously relied upon in support of applications to stay the enforcement of Norwich Pharmacal orders.