Cyprus Mail

Towards speeding up the courts

By Stefanos Evripidou

JUSTICE MINISTER Ionas Nicolaou yesterday met with the full bench of the Supreme Court to discuss the government’s plans to advance and expedite the dispensation of justice.

According to state broadcaster CyBC, the minister discussed two main proposals: adopting an automated system for recording minutes and managing cases; and setting up an administrative court to deal with the many applications to the top court on administrative issues in the public service.

The first measure would contribute towards an integrated computer system in Cypriot courts that would allow filing and managing cases via computers and the internet, reducing the current bureaucracy stifling the judiciary’s work.

Speaking about the same issue last month, Nicolaou said the government would inevitably be forced to partner with the private sector on some of these programmes.

On the establishment of an administrative court, this would go some way to lessening the workload of the Supreme Court which is often clogged with administrative appeals, usually over allegations of unlawful or irregular hiring practices in the civil service, made by failed contenders for the position.

In many cases, even when the Supreme Court finds that a person’s appointment or promotion to a public or semi-government office did not take place in a lawful or regular manner and cancels the appointment, the public office or semi-government body will go ahead and re-appoint the same person.

This in turn tends to create a cycle of appointments and appeals, further burdening the highest court in the land with relatively trivial matters over public sector job appointments.

Nicolaou said the Supreme Court saw the government’s efforts on both proposals in a positive light, adding that he hoped to see them come to fruition in 2014.

Supreme Court President Petros Artemis and Nicolaou also agreed to hold joint meetings between the minister and the full bench of the top court, comprising 13 judges including the president, once a month to exchange views on matters of justice.

The Supreme Court is tasked with hearing appeals from lower courts in civil and criminal matters, reviewing administrative decisions, hearing admiralty cases, judging on election petitions and ruling on constitutional matters.

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