Attorney-general Costas Clerides on Wednesday pleaded with MPs to promote long-pending legislation dealing with reform and employment matters within the state legal service to pull it out of the intensive care unit.
Clerides, who presented the legal service’s budget for 2019 to the House finance committee, told MPs that the three main goals of his service at the moment, were to alleviate the under-staffing problem, structural reforms and full autonomy of the legal service.
Promoting these issues, he said, was imperative, so that “we can pull the legal service out of the ICU”.
On the full autonomy of his service, Clerides said that even though according to the constitution, the AG is an independent official and the legal service an independent service, its lawyers are considered civil servants. He said that they ought to have the same status as the rest of the officials of the legal service.
A bill on the matter was not well received, he said, and is currently pending before a House committee. Discussion on the bill seems to have been postponed indefinitely, Clerides said.
The AG also said that there has been a steep rise in the legal service’s work load, which in tandem with a serious staff shortage leads to delays.
To-date all the vacant posts for attorneys, and senior lawyers have been filled. The service has invited persons to express interest in 41 posts for lawyers.
The House committee also discussed the budget of the judiciary in the presence of the president of the supreme court, Myronas Nikolatos.
Nikolatos told MPs that the long-awaited introduction of e-justice would be delayed as the successful tender bid had been cancelled.
He said he hoped that the matter would be promoted next year.
Earlier in the month, President Nicos Anastasiades had said that the state was also set to move forward with plans for ‘e-justice’ which will speed up the legal process.