Cyprus Mail

Small businesses file class action against lenders

By Constantinos Psillides

Head of union of small businesses and self-employed individuals (SYMEA) Stavros Alampritis said on Monday their lawyers had filed a class-action lawsuit against all licensed lenders, the first of what is expected to be a “wave of lawsuits”.

SYMEA is protesting the foreclosures bill, along with every liquidation effort initiated by banks. Instead of foreclosures, SYMEA proposes a universal haircut on the principal of a loan, and capping bank interest rates so that delinquent borrowers can afford to repay their loans.

“Our lawyers started working on filing suits against all banks for illegal charges on loans, bank accounts and credit cards. We demand that each and every one of these illegal charges is deducted so people know how much money they really owe the banks,” said Alampritis, according to the Cyprus News Agency.

Alampritis maintained that removing the charges is the only way to effectively restructure loans.

He told CNA that filing class-action suits also served a different purpose. “While legal proceedings are in place, no foreclosure can be carried out. Even if the foreclosures bill is passed by the House of Representatives the banks can’t go forward with foreclosures before the hearing is done,” said the SYMEA head.

Alampritis called upon all who believe they had been wronged by the banks to join with his union and file a suit against their lender. “We work with a number of legal offices. We will direct all of our members to file suits, and the legal expenses will not surpass €300 in any case,” said Alampritis, adding that anyone who was interested must first register as a member.

The head of SYMEA told CNA that a large number of legal firms had approached SYMEA asking to represent them in court, “because this is a case with tens of thousands of suits ready to be filed.”

SYMEA is a young union, set up last April and numbering only some 2,000 members.

Talking to CyBC radio, Alampritis said the first item on their agenda would be to block the foreclosures bill. The bill, currently opposed by all parliamentary parties with the exception of governing DISY, is expected to be put to a plenum vote later in the week.

Talking to the Cyprus Mail in July, Alampritis said that their members were planning to stage a protest outside the parliament in the event that the foreclosures bill passes, a protest Alampritis warned would go on indefinitely.

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