By Angelos Anastasiou
COURTS were inundated in 2013 with four times as many appeals as in other years, with the bulk related to government decisions on implementing the bailout agreement with the Troika, lawmakers were told by justice ministry officials.
In a letter responding to AKEL deputy Aristos Damianou’s question, acting permanent undersecretary at the Justice ministry Andreas Louka said that in 2013 alone, 6,563 cases were submitted to the Supreme Court, while the annual average until that point had been about 1,800. Three out of four of new cases brought before the court last year – 4,892 out of 6,563 – relate to measures taken by the government and the Central Bank of Cyprus aimed at consolidating the financial sector.
But things are expected to get even worse once Administrative Courts are established, as a massive flurry of appeals are expected in relation to the sale of bank bonds to depositors, which were never repaid. The courts, jurisdictionally responsible for adjudicating bank bond cases, are expected to be set up in September, provided the House votes for their establishment before the summer break.
According to Louka, the Supreme Court tries on average 1,200 to 1,500 cases a year, though it was able to get through 3,828 cases in 2013 – mainly because several similar cases by public servants were bundled together in trial.
Meanwhile, slow adjudication times are also plaguing the appeals process. As of last March, a total of 7,860 appeals were pending, leading to estimates of five-year adjudication periods. However, it is expected that the establishment of Administrative Courts will ease pressure on the Supreme Court, allowing it to focus on its appellate function.
The information listed in Louka’s letter will facilitate discussion at the Legal Affairs committee during the upcoming deliberations on the Administrative Courts bill, which has already drawn some expressions of concern.