Cyprus Mail

Supreme Court rules House shopping law unconstitutional

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favour of the president’s referral of a law regulating shops’ opening hours, voted by parliament in May 2015, saying it violated the principle of separation of powers.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court reasoned that the House may legislate broadly on matters, setting the framework within which the executive branch of government may operate.

In this case, the court said, parliament passed a law distinguishing between shops according to their size and the products they sell, the area they are located in, affording some shops extended operating hours and restricting those of others.

This runs counter to the labour minister’s explicit right to set shops’ operating hours, after consulting with legally-prescribed advisory committees at district level.

The law was the culmination of months of feuding between the government and opposition parties, which sought to restrict the labour minister’s right to liberalise shop working hours, arguing that the liberal schedule favoured big chains and crushed small and medium businesses.

It stipulated that only some types of shops, up to a certain floor size, may operate under an extended schedule – including Sunday – across Cyprus, with the rest being so allowed only in the summer in specifically designated tourist areas.

These were the walled city of Nicosia, Paralimni and Ayia Napa in Famagusta, and the Polis Chrysochous, Peyia, and Neo Chorio areas in Paphos.

The president’s referral made five separate arguments against the law’s constitutionality, citing separate laws.

In the Supreme Court ruling, only the first was examined – separation of powers – and, as a clear breach was identified, the court did not delve into the rest of the arguments.

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