Latest Headlines

Cyprus Bar to advise lawyers after landmark ruling

Following a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court of Cyprus which found a Cypriot lawyer professionally negligent, the Cyprus Bar Association has determined to advise its members accordingly.

THE CYPRUS BAR Association has decided to advise its members on the broader range of duties placed on legal practitioners following last month’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on legal negligence.

The Supreme Court awarded a British couple around €120,000 in compensation as a result of their Paphos lawyer’s negligence in a property case, marking a first in Cyprus.

Head of the Bar Association, Doros Ioannides, told the Sunday Mail yesterday that the landmark case was discussed during last Thursday’s monthly board meeting.

We discussed what are the liabilities and extra duties of lawyers arising from the judgement from a legal point of view and also how to advise lawyers,” said Ioannides.

We agreed to explain to lawyers the decision and what obligations, undertakings, liabilities arise as a result regarding out of court activities,” he said, noting that this involved all practices, not just property transactions.

Ioannides acknowledged that the Supreme Court decision widened the responsibilities and liabilities of lawyers.

It’s a decision which puts some guidelines down so a lawyer has to be careful towards his client. What we will give is not binding, just advice.

Ioannides noted that as of January 1, 2010, all lawyers are obliged to take professional indemnity or else they can not renew their practising lawyer’s licence.

If a client wants to get compensation they can either go to court or sort it out with the insurance company in an out-of-court settlement.

Asked whether he agreed with the court decision, he replied: “I don’t disagree with the decision as a whole. There is professional negligence in every profession, whether you are a doctor, lawyer or driver.

The decision is likely to have sent alarm bells ringing among those lawyers who may have been following unsafe practices, particularly on property issues.

The British couple involved in the landmark case sued their Paphos lawyer Nicos Papacleovoulou for negligently handling a property contract in 1999, which led to them losing a significant amount of money while never receiving the property.

The lawyer had failed to inform the couple that the property had been twice mortgaged and had a charge registered against it. The developer who signed the contract subsequently went bankrupt and never finished the house.

Following an 11-year pursuit of justice, which cost them their relationship and the man’s health, the British couple finally had their day in court last month when the top judges ordered the lawyer to pay full compensation to the couple for money lost as a result of his negligence.

The couple’s Nicosia-based lawyer, Nicholas Georghiades, the first lawyer in Cyprus to take on a colleague in a negligence case, described the ruling as “outstanding” and “the best case scenario” since “it set a very good precedent, fully explaining a lawyer’s duties”.

It was the first case of a lawyer’s negligence in Cyprus and the first time that the top court chose to lay out the duties and obligations of a lawyer vis-a-vis their clients, providing the basis for any future case against negligent lawyers, particularly on title deeds.

Speaking after the ruling, Georghiades explained there was no previous case law in Cyprus, meaning he had to rely on English authorities that might not necessarily be adopted. “In England, the law society has special rules on conveyancing practice. There’s no such thing in Cyprus,” he said.

Readers' comments

Comments on this article are no longer being accepted.

  • James JH Lockhart says:

    How Many Lawyers/Advocates have been Struck of in the Last Five Years ???

    Has Anybody any knowledge of any Cases ? Or even if the Cyprus Bar Association Disciplinary Board Ever convenes ?

  • Steve says:

    There is a saying amongst British expat professionals in Cyprus that they use to explain how some Cypriots can go to study law, architecture and civil engineering, etc… in the UK and Northern Europe and get good degrees and practise diligence and adherence to professional ethical standards while working there as postgraduates, then when they come home to Cyprus all the standards go out of the window……

    It’s very sad that these people can so easily destroy the reputations of the good Cypriot professionals.

  • Mra graham Young says:

    I like to know then what the Cyprus bar thinks professional negligence is.

    OF COURSE it applies to all professional practices and to all levels of advice. I do find it hard to fathom out what he means by “extra work” for giving proper, honest professional advice. After all, that’s all that required.

    graham young.

  • Jo says:

    Our lawyer turned out to be acting for both purchasers and vendors. They turned the builder/vendor family into a limited company. We were not advised the land was mortgaged until we learned that our deposit had been used to pay it off. The lawyer herself, went to the bank and paid it…

  • David and Shirley says:

    We knew about the title deed problems when we bought a holiday flat in Pafos last year. Our lawyer assured us that the property was not mortgaged and so we went ahead and bought.

    What a mistake we made! When we came over at Christmas we got the land registry to do a title search and found that the land had been mortgaged several years ago by the developer.

    We have spoken with the lawyer once by telephone. She was extremely insulting and rude and told us we did not know what we were talking about. Since then she has refused to answer our telephone calls, letters and e-mails.

    We are going to sue her for professional negligence like the other couple. Wish us luck and thank you so much for this fantastic magazine.

    David and Shirley

  • Anyone and Everyone says:

    Ye gods .They all train at English University and come away with honours.Yet somehow they need advising how to perform the most basic duties.

    What else should a lawyer do if not be careful towards his client. What ever happened to truth, morals and integrity ?.

    If lawyers would all have acted diligently for their clients this whole property fiasco would never have happened.

  • The views expressed in readers' comments are not necessarily shared by the Cyprus Property News.

  • Text size

Back to top