COVID-19 accelerates the modernization of justice system in Cyprus

COVID-19 accelerates the modernization of justice system in Cyprus

Our firm’s Advocate and Legal Consultant Andrea Neophytou writes at the Great Britain – Cyprus Business Gazette, June edition.

Covid-19, the new global invisible enemy, has caused serious problems to all countries. In Cyprus, as is the case in many other countries, the primary areas it has affected are the tourism industry and the local economies mostly associated with trade and investment. Major crises however, do not always have absolute and total negative effects. “There is always light at the end of the tunnel”. Let’s study the situation we are now in, identify the possible opportunities and look into the future with optimism.

One major factor for a “smooth running” of a country is its legal system. In recent years, Cyprus has seen a great number of reforms of its aging British-Law based system as it identified the need to get it modernized.

Over the last few years, the Cyprus government, made several reforms and changes, as regards the operation of Cyprus Justice system in an effort to speed up the adjudication of its court cases. The country established and is now operating the Administrative Court and the Administrative Court of International Protection.

However, many other changes and reforms, still need to be made, in order to fully modernize the justice system. For example, what if certain lengthy legal proceedings (now required to be brought in Court) were automated or reduced only to the times of trial, what-if the obligatory physical presence of the public and lawyers at the competent Registries of the Court, for the registration of documents or for the signing of affidavits was performed electronically? Let’s all use the technology to adopt new, more effective methods and shorten our procedures. This will help in the adjudication of even more cases, the legal proceedings will be accelerated and that will lead to decongestion of the Courts and of their Registries.

Today, even though we are going through rough times fighting the pandemic, there are growing discussions and wider acceptance of the need to speed this reform and modernization further. 

In the midst of the pandemic, our justice system is being tested, with the temporary adoption of new ways of handling and postponing the cases that are set up in front of the Court on a daily basis. Furthermore, there are also several temporary changes, as regards the way of the operation of the Court’s Registries.

This ordeal perhaps is being the beginning of a new era for the full modernization of justice in Cyprus. The upheaval in the way the justice system operates, in the midst of the pandemic, seems to have alarmed the Cyprus government.

The intention of the Ministry of Justice, in the coming months, is to make several changes and permanent reforms, in the way that the system works.

One of the reforms that has been discussed and is in the process of preparation is the electronic registration of documents and affidavits, without the need of the physical presence of lawyers and of the public at the Court. In addition, already various bills have been submitted to the Parliament, regarding the structural change of the Courts but also and other similar bills, concerning the reforms that may be made, in the next period of time, which we hope will be voted on, as soon as possible.

It seems that each new ordeal creates a new opportunity to test and adopt new ideas, new standards and new habits. Gradually, everything changes and we are called upon to move forward with modernization, in order to keep pace and to identify with the new data and situations that appear in front of us and to evolve. Moreover, the evolution is always born through new tests, pressure and difficult situations that inevitably arise over the time. Even though Covid-19 brought several negative effects in Cyprus, we could well say that it also had positive effects, one of which is the acceleration of the modernization of the functioning of the justice system in Cyprus.

For further information or consultation kindly contact Andrea Neophytou, Advocate and Legal Consultant at NICOS NEOPHYTOU LAW PARTNERS at [email protected]