Cyprus Mail

Supreme Court full bench to judge civil servants pay appeal in Sept

The supreme court in Nicosia

The supreme court will sit for the state’s appeals against the administrative court’s decisions on civil service salaries on September 30, it emerged on Tuesday.

The appeals against the administrative court’s decisions reversing pay and pension cuts imposed on civil servants in 2012, is being heard by the supreme court’s full bench of 13 judges.

The procedure was interrupted earlier in the month after the state filed a request for the recusal of several members of the supreme court bench, including the president, due to their having an interest in the outcome of the appeal.

Justifying the state’s request, Attorney-general Costas Clerides said six of the judges had appealed personally against the pay cuts while others are married to civil servants who stand to gain from the outcome of the proceedings.

On July 16, the supreme court cited the rule of necessity to refuse the state’s motions, arguing that based on all the recusal requests, the court would not only be unable to put together a seven-member plenum, but not even a three-member appellate court.

“Under the circumstances we judge that our judicial duty comes first and requires that the exceptionally important and critical cases are judged by the full bench of the supreme court, in its 13-member lineup,” the court said.

In the March 29 decisions, the administrative court ruled that a freeze on incremental pay rises, a 3 per cent contribution to pensions, and a reduction in civil servants’ pay were in violation of article 23 of the constitution regarding the protection of the right to property.

The judgment applied to civil servants as well as persons employed in the broader public sector, such as semi-governmental organisations.

As such, the pay reductions were deemed null and void and the applicants entitled to compensation, effective immediately.

Various estimates have been floated on how much the decisions might cost the state should the administrative court’s ruling be upheld and the affected civil servants compensated.

The most conservative scenario sees a few million euros as immediate backpay, compensating only those civil servants who sued, plus €200m annually from restoring full salaries to all civil servants.

The decisions came at a time when the government had started to gradually reinstate the austerity-driven cuts.

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