The Cypriot justice system had 2.5 incoming cases per 100 people in 2015 and will take on average 1,085 days to settle, the worst performance among 23 European countries that submitted data for that year, the EU Commission said on Monday.
The 2017 EU Justice Scoreboard covered administrative, civil and commercial cases in the EU. In Cyprus, resolution time was notably longer for administrative law cases reaching 1,381 days, again the worst performance. Administrative cases include those brought against public bodies.
It was, however, an improvement compared to 1,775 days for cases filed in 2014.
This was due the fact that the judiciary resolved 86 cases for every 100 incoming, a rate that showed a spectacular improvement in administrative cases where 120 were resolved for every 100 new ones.
In 2015, the report said, 6.5 cases were outstanding for every 100 people whereas for administrative cases that rate was 0.9/100.
At the same time, adjudication in cases of consumer protection was one of the best in the EU, 75 days. Money laundering cases were resolved in 365 days.
Cyprus also recorded the lowest use of electronic systems in the judiciary with only six per cent of the cases submitted that way. Digital signatures reached nine per cent while digital communication between lawyers and clients was 11 per cent.
The main reason is that in almost half of the cases, 45 per cent, no means existed; the use of electronic means was banned in 17 per cent of the cases and nine per cent had a negative view of them. Two per cent did not trust digital communications.
The report said 5.2 people per 100,000 use out of court means to resolve differences and the state spends around €25 per person on the justice system – down from €31 in 2010.
Total spending remained fixed at 0.1 per cent of gross domestic product, the report said. Cyprus had around 13 judges per 100,000 residents, 31 per cent being women.
The number of lawyers reached 378 per 100,000 residents.
In 2017, 11 per cent of Cypriots said they considered courts completely independent and another 11 per cent disagreed. The majority, 49 per cent, were satisfied with the courts’ independence.
Thirteen per cent thought the judges’ social standing did not guarantee their independence, as 20 per cent believed they were pressured by financial and social factors. Eighteen per cent said they were pressured by politicians and the government.
Court independence in Cyprus was rated by the World Economic Forum at 4.7 – Finland had the best rating at 6.7.