On March 18 2015 the Supreme Court examined Appeal 109/2009 against a decision made by the Limassol District Court to set aside orders obtained by Tlais Enterprises Limited to seal and serve an action in the district court against Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the UK tax and customs authority.1
From 2002 to 2005 Tlais was the exclusive agent in Cyprus of Gallaher International Limited, a major UKbased multinational tobacco company now owned by Japan Tobacco. Their relationship, particularly its termination, had already been the subject of litigation in the English courts.2
Tlais, Gallaher and Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise – which was subsequently absorbed into HMRC – were also parties to a separate tripartite agreement intended to reduce import of contraband cigarettes into the United Kingdom via Cyprus or Dubai. The tripartite agreement was based on Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise’s red and yellow card procedure, described in the judgment on the English proceedings, by which it alerted manufacturers in respect of customers about whom it had serious concerns, usually based on the proportion of the customer’s total purchases which found their way back to the United Kingdom.