SO FAR lawyers in Cyprus have had it easy. We often hear in the media that such and such a developer, estate agent or other professional is “crooked”, but God forbid this being said about Cypriot lawyers.
We dared (!!!) mention this class of professionals a couple of years ago and, in our desperation at the ill goings on, we decided to set up a one-stop shop, advising clients on “correct” lawyers.
One accounting firm has decided to do the same for its own business (registration of companies, directorships etc), using in-house lawyers; but under pressure from the organised lawyers’ groups has changed its plans and its original department of 10 advocates is shrinking fast.
So, by extension, we decided, at least at this point of time, not to proceed with our “one-stop shop”.
But provocation has its limits. Examples are plentiful – but the prime locations of the wrong goings are in Paphos.
Having said that, we stress that we do not accuse all Paphos lawyers, but the town has an unusual high percentage of wrong doings by lawyers, in comparison to other cities in Cyprus.
- A contract which was given by us to a lawyer to copy/prepare, was done without even changing the number of the apartment. We can understand this may have been a human error, but our client was charged €2,500 and we were annoyed.
- We sold an apartment from a desperate owner (who was dying of cancer). The seller’s lawyer demanded full payment of the sales price prior to signing the contract. We were given the information” that this lawyer wants a cut”, to which we said no. The end result and after three months of waiting, the deal fell through. At the time we could not persuade the seller to change this lawyer, nor for the buyer to place the full purchase price in an escrow account held by a commonly acceptable reliable person (e.g. Bank Manager etc).
- A most recent (this week) event was that we have concluded a sale of an apartment in Paphos for €60,000 and received €5,000 as a reservation fee paid to the lawyer. The lawyer of the seller asked for €1,000 extra over and above the agreed price. We communicated with the seller only to be told that he never asked for more money!! Money in the pocket of the Paphos lawyer??
- A sales contract in some offices needs anything from 1-2 months to be prepared – a routine contract should not take more than 7 days.
Have you ever tried to find a way out in this sort of a situation? We doubt that you will get anywhere. How can you prove, for example, in the last instance that the extra €1,000 required by the lawyer would not have gone to the seller (if we report this to the Disciplinary Committee of the Lawyers, we stand to be sued for damagers for libel etc)?
A senior politician told me recently “Antonis have you not understood that this is a lawyer-run country”? He is absolutely right, whatever bill goes through the House there must be “something” to the benefit of the lawyers.
Suffice to say that a majority of our MPs are lawyers.
We are copying this article to the Disciplinary Committee of the Lawyers Association for whatever it is worth, but then without any concrete evidence we do not have a chance.
We are ending this article by adding that we must stress that there are numerous good offices in Paphos, which offer better quality of work than in other towns, but you must know who is who (with special regard to the foreign clients in particular this is very difficult).
By Antonis Loizou, FRICS
Antonis Loizou & Associates Ltd
Property Valuers – Project Managers
Copyright © Antonis Loizou & Associates 2010
The British High Commission in Nicosia publishes a list of English speaking lawyers, a copy of which may be found in the article ‘Lawyers, law firms and legal advice’. Anyone requiring “correct” legal advice, information or representation on any matter is urged to contact a lawyer on the High Commission’s list.