Cyprus Mail

AG wants autonomy for Legal Service, free hand to hire

Attorney-general Costas Clerides

THE attorney-general plans to file proposals to make the Legal Service fully autonomous, as is the case in other European countries, and to give it a free hand with recruitments, it was announced on Friday.

In a written statement, Costas Clerides said despite efforts to fill 34 vacant places in the service, the time-consuming procedures of the public service commission only serve to make things worse.

The Legal Service recruitment was governed by civil service legislation, causing delays in procedures.

The attorney-general said the service lost three more “capable members in the past 24 hours” who have been appointed to the judiciary.

“The continuous blows to the Legal Service due to the departure of its members, highlight the problem that stems from the fact that this vital service, which cannot appoint and promote its own human resources, and lags far behind the autonomous and independent judiciary, both in appearance and substance, but also in pay and other employment conditions.”

Presenting the service’s budget last November, Clerides told MPs that it was probably going through the most difficult time in its history since it had to deal with an unprecedented number of cases and lack of staff.

Following the economic collapse, the state’s law office had to process a huge number of bills to meet the island’s bailout conditions.

It was also called to deal with the aftershocks of the bailout, which included the closure of Cyprus’ second largest bank, and the seizure of deposits to keep the largest one afloat.

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed by people who lost their money in March 2013. There were also bigger cases involving billions before arbitration tribunals abroad.

On top of that, the law office must deal with numerous corruption cases that emerged at around the same time.

To top it off, many state attorneys had chosen to go private in recent years, leaving the office understaffed to deal with the dramatic rise in cases.

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