The courts system is in distress, threatening the proper dispensation of justice, the President of the Supreme Court warned on Wednesday.
The judicial system is so congested that it takes years to bring cases to court, Myron Nicolatos told MPs at a session of the House legal affairs committee.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” he said, citing the old legal maxim.
Appointing more judges should be a top priority. The Supreme Court had earlier requested that 30 new judges be appointed, but the state approved just four.
A report prepared by the Supreme Court, and circulated to MPs, showed that in Cyprus the allocation of funds to the courts, as a percentage of GDP, is the lowest among EU countries.
The same report placed Cyprus second-before-last in terms of judges per 100,000 population. Whereas in other European countries, there are around 45 to 50 judges per 100,000 population, in Cyprus that number is 12.
The lack of judges aside, Nicolatos spoke of the poor state of the district courts, particularly of the Nicosia district court, which he called “quite unacceptable.”
Justice minister Ionas Nicolaou said that tenders would be called in 2017 for the construction of a new Nicosia district court complex.
But it would take years before the new building is completed.
Nicolaou also proposed establishing specialised courts, such as trade courts and mediation courts.
And he announced that next month tenders would be called for an e–justice system involving the use of Internet technology in handling various administrative procedures.
For his part, finance minister Harris Georgiades pledged additional funds to support the courts.
Chiming in, Disy MP Giorgos Georgiou, chairman of the legal affairs committee, noted that Cyprus ranks very low on the EU Justice Scoreboard, published by the European Commission.
The system needs an overhaul, and not just “quick-fix” legislation, he said.