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What hope for justice in Cyprus?

WHEN Interior Ministry official Savvas Ioannou was questioned by Jean Christou about the ‘Immovable Property Tax Scam’, he was reported as saying: “This is not a matter where the state can intervene, but if a buyer feels that any term in the contract is abusive, this can be examined by the courts in the context […]

WHEN Interior Ministry official Savvas Ioannou was questioned by Jean Christou about the ‘Immovable Property Tax Scam’, he was reported as saying: This is not a matter where the state can intervene, but if a buyer feels that any term in the contract is abusive, this can be examined by the courts in the context of a civil action filed by the buyer against the seller.”

Mr Ioannou and his colleagues in the Interior Ministry may wish to read and take note of the following article from today’s Stockwatch which reports that “The hearing of a simple civil case may take up to 4-5 years”.

If the Cyprus Government refuses to act against the property crooks & conmen and the Cypriot courts cannot hear even a simple case within 4 -5 years, what hope is there for any property buyer getting justice in Cyprus?


A need to reform courts

THE REFORM of the judicial system does not fall under the priorities of Justice Minister, Kypros Chrisostomides, despite the general acknowledgment that the system is not healthy and the acknowledgment that Cyprus’s convictions for the huge delays in the hearing of cases that might even take five years.

According to latest figures, the number of pending cases in the district courts stood at 75 thousand in 2006, while those in the Supreme Court reached 5,200.

Due to the time-consuming procedures, credit rating firm Moody’s rated the island’s “legal system” with an “E”, which is the worst. Comparatively, the Greek “legal system” received a “D”.

The conditions in the Cypriot courts have led Cyprus to 23 convictions by the European Court of Human Rights, while some 14 cases against the state are still pending.

“The Justice Ministry has been informed on the prevailing conditions in the courts due to the delays”, Mr. Chrisostomides told StockWatch. Invited to comment whether he will take drastic measures, the Minister referred to the judicial power.

“The Ministry of Justice cannot intervene if the judicial power, as “independent authority” do not ask for it. However, the Ministry is ready to offer its help for the solution of the problems and the fastest hearing of the cases”, he stated.

In his statements to StockWatch, the new President of the Supreme Court, Petros Artemis expressed his surprise on Mr. Chrisostomides’ statements. After admitting that the delays in the hearing are huge, he noted that several positive steps have been made. These steps include the restriction and preparation of the time for the pleading in the civil cases.

“We are ready to adopt new rules of civil procedure, which were prepared by the Magistrates Committee after taking into account the views of all parties involved”, he stressed.

Referring to the office automation problem, Mr. Artemis said that this is linked to the lack of specialized staff. “We expect that the government will give solutions via the appointment of specialized staff”, he added.

On the other hand, Chairman of the Bar Association, Doros Ioannides stated that the lawyers often complain about the chaotic conditions in the Cypriot courts. “It is worth saying that they still use handwriting, an old and time consuming procedure. The hearing of a simple civil case may take up to 4-5 years”, he stressed.

Similarly, Chairman of House Legal Committee and DISY MP, Ionas Nicolaou expressed his concerns on the dramatic delays and urged the Justice Minister to undertake his responsibilities for an issue pending since 2002.

Commenting on the Minister’s statements, Mr. Nicolaou said that the problem must be solved the soonest possible because Cyprus is maligned abroad.

Mr. Nicholaou also rejected the Minister’s statements on the judicial power, clarifying that there are issues concerning the government and not the judicial power.

“It is about an infrastructure problem that needs certain changes. The delays in the hearing of cases are a problem concerning the whole society, especially the economy”, MP and member of the Legal Committee, Nicholas Papadopoulos stated.

Mr. Papadopoulos also stressed that the problem is not irrelevant to the foreign investments in Cyprus. “When foreign investors know that it will take 4-5 years to be vindicated in courts, they avoid investing in Cyprus. This affects negatively the capital inflow”, he concluded.

© 1999 – 2008 Stockwatch Ltd

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