Latest Headlines

Cyprus Bar Association in the dock

The Cyprus Bar Association’s minimum fees for out-of-court work violate the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union; a formal legal complaint against the Association at the European Commission is planned.

Cyprus Bar Association in the dockAN ACTION Group is being formed whose objective is to bring a formal legal complaint against the Cyprus Bar Association in the European Commission. Those who may be interested in joining the Group should get in touch via my ‘contact page‘.

Many readers who have paid a lawyer may not realise that legal fees in Cyprus for non-court work are often much higher than in other European states.

The Cyprus Bar Association maintains a system of minimum fees for out of court work including Wills, powers of attorney, property transactions and the administration of estates which inflates charges, prevents fair competition, and exists nowhere else in Europe.

An Action Group is now being formed to stop this abuse through a formal legal Complaint to the European Commission against the minimum fees regulations and the role of the Cyprus Bar Association in enforcing them. High level specialist Counsel in London has advised by written Opinion that the fee regulations clearly breach European law and in particular the provisions of Article 101 of the European Treaty.

In response to a Complaint, the European Commission has the power to:

  1. declare excessive fees calculated under the fee regulations to be unlawful,
  2. fine the Cyprus Bar Association up to 10% of its annual income and require it to cease any future action to fix or control fees charged by lawyers.
  3. provide the basis for private recovery actions in the Courts by overcharged clients.

The next step is to prepare a fully argued Complaint to the European Commission setting out the detailed arguments and law involved.

The Action Group is being advised by Mr Robert O’Donoghue of Brick Court Chambers and by BPE Solicitors LLP

Action driven from the UK

For obvious reasons the chances of finding a lawyer in Cyprus who is prepared to progress any action against his Bar Association at the European Commission will prove ‘difficult’. It will probably prove even more ‘difficult’ to find a lawyer in Cyprus who is willing to take one of his colleagues to court to claim overpaid fees!

Legal precedent

In 2004 the European Commission condemned the minimum fee scale imposed by the Belgian Architects’ Association. The Commission considered that the fixing or recommending fees to be a “very serious infringement” and fined the Association €100,000.

Contact

Those who may be interested in joining the Group should get in touch via my ‘contact page‘.

Readers' comments

Comments on this article are no longer being accepted.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    Sounds a worthwhile cause! I have heard of will execution fees in Cyprus of 10% or more.

    To counter the obvious problem of no maximum fee guideline or tariff, when I think it necessary e.g. will execution, I get a fixed-fee agreed in advance (which of course one can back-calculate as a rough percentage of the expected estate value and make damned sure it is far less than 10%!!) The power in the situation is in the client’s hands, since if the lawyer refuses to accept a fixed-fee arrangement then one takes the business elsewhere.

  • Andrew says:

    While the Bar Association is under scrutiny it would be good time to investigate the practice, by their members, of withholding vital information from clients. Why did their members fail to inform property buyers of outstanding developer mortgages?

    It is now apparent that the service provided by lawyers was shoddy and overpriced.

  • @Richard on 2015/03/05 at 8:35 am – There is no six-year rule.

    Parliament has delayed the implementation of the Limitations Law until the end of the year.

  • Richard says:

    @Nigel – I think this is worth consideration and orchestrated action. We’ve personally been overcharged many thousands by our Cypriot lawyer for simple work that a qualified third-party out there told us we should have been charged a few hundred euros (at the VERY MOST).

    On question though – is there a time limit on pressuring them? This work was done in 2009 and will the usual six year rule apply?

    Without doubt – Cypriot lawyers have had an absolute bonanza out of this off-plan property scam (for that is what it is) & it’s high time they faced the music.

    To keep applying pressure on the E.U (corrupt and/or inept or not) is vital.

    @Deanna – I’ve also joined the pressure groups in the UK and also started to make contacts in the press – and lobby the (so far) not terribly helpful FCA (as these contracts were signed on UK soil). I’m also continuing to apply pressure via our M.P.

    I don’t accept (and never will accept) this is a hopeless situation that cannot be rectified. And Deanna – it’s not just the NHS at threat – it’s the very lives of all of us on many fronts. Banks in Cyprus are only now slowly (and very reluctantly) opening up discussions about re-negotiating loan terms. Meanwhile – HSBC has been caught red-handed helping the hugely wealthy off-shore their assets in Switzerland (quite possibly making our CHF loan problem worse in the process) and pay NO TAX!

    My take is this. 80% of people are actually good and ok. 20% are not ok – and believe through greed and corruption they are supremely ‘self entitled’. They are NOT. It’s just that for the last few decades – the 20% have assumed total power over the 80%.

    As a member of the 80% – I think it’s high time we took the power back off them!

  • Hector says:

    I agree that this is exactly what needs to be done to highlight and draw the worlds attention to the appalling state of the legal profession in Cyprus. Whilst that profession will resist to the bitter end, it’s members will only gain if they reform and change.

  • Deanna says:

    @Steve. For me, the formation of this group is, first and foremost, a raising of public awareness and – whatever the outcome – that has to be a good thing.

    About a year ago I joined a non-political action group in the UK – 38degrees. And I have recently been actively leafleting and gathering petitions against the creeping privatisation of our NHS.

    You’d be surprised how many people walk around in a ‘bubble’, not realising what’s going on around them (until it’s too late).

    So well done Nigel and thank you.

  • @Mike on 2015/03/04 at 9:44 am – A few things:

    (1) The general issue of transparency is a major problem in many areas here (including lawyer’s fees). You can’t even find out if anyone’s made a complaint against a lawyer!

    (2) Although the Cyprus Bar Association lays down ‘minimum fees’, it doesn’t lay down ‘maximum fees’. This allows lawyers to charge whatever they think they can get away with – and it seems the hardest hit are those whose parents have passed away who have been charged a king’s ransom in lawyers fees for administering the deceased’s estate or acting as their executor.

    (3) You could be charged exactly the same by a young, inexperienced lawyer who’s just got their law degree and a lawyer who’s had countless years of experience and has gained a wealth of knowledge.

    This action will help make the Cyprus Bar Association and its advocate members conduct their business in a professional manner as lawyers in the rest of the EU – and pay for their past misdemeanours.

    At the moment, I am trying to establish how many people may be interested in joining the group.

    As for the cost, the barrister’s opinion on the matter has already been prepared and paid for – the next step is to prepare the complaint based on that opinion and take it to the European Commission.

  • @Steve R on 2015/03/04 at 9:26 am – This legal complaint is going directly to the European Commission; the Cyprus Bar Association is not involved and neither are Cypriot lawyers. So they cannot delay the compliant or the judgement.

    If the European Commission rules that clients who have been overcharged can take private recovery actions, these actions do not have to take place in the Cypriot courts. I expect that many Britons will bring actions in the UK courts – possibly a group action. Again Cypriot lawyers are not involved (unless they choose to defend the actions in the UK).

  • Mike says:

    I hope we do not open a Pandora’s box with this action as although I too have found legal fees to be rather high here the sums dictated in Article 24 appear very reasonable based on what I have recently paid overseas. Could it be that lawyers here include add ons and disbursements which we are unaware of and may or may not be fictitious or at least questionable. I know I was charged €350 to investigate straight, close parallel lines on a land deed which seemed to be nothing more than a mark created by the printer and proved to be nothing significant.

    Any occasion I have had need to use lawyers it does appear that the charges are seemingly clouded in secrecy to some degree and not entirely clear, detailed, unambiguous and listed. Obviously not enough to warrant a full scale rejection of the charge but enough to leave questions albeit of no consequence in the great scheme of things.

    Conversely overseas lawyers fees appear to be explained up front, explained in boringly minute detail then finally invoiced in similar minute detail. I guess I use lawyers two or three times per year and have just instructed again over the last fortnight.

    I do know my overseas fees per hour are far greater than those listed here by a long way for Solicitors / Advocates and although I have never had need to use a Barrister in Cyprus their fees overseas are astronomical. I hope we are not providing a platform to facilitate an inflation of fees.

  • Steve R says:

    I don’t hold out much hope on this one. CBA and its members have always been a closed shop. Even when a solicitor has blatantly violated the C.O.P set down by the Bar the sentence has been minimum with the member being suspended for 6 months during which time he carried on practising using a buddy to sign things off until the suspension is up and the license is reinstated. Obviously for legal reasons this person can not be named but I employed this very person. I didn’t find this out until a few years after.

    The point being is, if this did reach court the Cypriot lawyers are so good with delaying tactics that it would drag on for years. Good Luck on this one.

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

  • Text size

SELECTED REPORTS

Back to top