Common Law jurisdictions, such as Cyprus, are well placed to deal with fast-paced changes in commercial and technological environment due to their agility, said the Chancellor of the High Court, Sir Geoffrey Vos, one of the most senior judges in the United Kingdom.
Speaking at an event organised by the British High Commission and the University of Nicosia School of Law, Sir Geoffrey said the financial world is undergoing a major revolution, noting that around 3 trillion financial deals will be entered into every year by way of smart contracts and digital ledger technology (DLT) within 5 years.
“These smart contracts will all be self-executing and recorded on the blockchain. The world’s legal systems will need to respond quickly to these changes, ready to deal with the regulatory and other problems that will undoubtedly arise”, he added.
He also noted that “ in an era when people can get every kind of service almost instantly on their smart phones, it is inconceivable that they will accept, in the longer term, the delays that are inherent in almost all justice systems. Online solutions and other forms of speedier alternative dispute resolution will be needed to satisfy the millennial generation of our ability to deliver justice”.
According to a press release issued by the British High Commission, Sir Geoffrey shared experiences from the UK of adaptations in the judicial system to keep pace with technological innovations particularly in the FinTech, RegTech and LegalTech fields.
These include the creation of the Business and Property courts to bring together the jurisdictions that deal with financial, business, and commercial dispute resolution into one of the biggest dedicated business courts in the world; the development of e-justice to deliver justice more swiftly; and online dispute resolution platforms and online courts – all of which have relevance to Cyprus’ plans in this area. Legal reforms such as these will also help meet Cyprus’ aim of becoming a regional business and legal hub.
Speaking on Brexit and the impact it may have on the judiciary, Sir Geoffrey said it was the role of the judiciary to respond logically to the challenges that Brexit threw up, such as in the field of citizens’ rights, the regulation of anti-competitive practices, and the question of financial passporting and regulation. He expressed confidence that the Common Law system would not suffer adversely from Brexit. Post-Brexit the UK would continue to actively support Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and is seeking an arrangement with the EU that continues to allow the close judicial co-operation which currently exists across the EU, including the enforcement of UK court judgements.
High Commissioner Stephen Lillie, in his opening speech at the event said that “as countries with a shared legal heritage, the UK and Cyprus – and indeed other EU Common Law jurisdictions such as Ireland and Malta – have much to learn from each other in the field of modernisation of judicial practices to keep pace with the technological advancements of the 21st century. Understanding these technological advancements is the first step along the way to tackling them, and helping to shape the legal environment in which these revolutionary developments will occur”.
“Legal co-operation has long been a pillar of our bilateral co-operation with Cyprus, and this will continue as you seek to modernise your own systems. Our Common Law heritage creates professional and commercial linkages both between our countries and between the communities of Cyprus that we value and want to see flourish further” he concluded.