The president of the supreme court has threatened judges with possible disciplinary measures if they continue to delay wrapping up cases.
In a circular recently distributed to judges, Myron Nicolatos censured judges for allowing lengthy postponements of court cases, usually because of requests by lawyers for more time to study the cases at hand.
Nicolatos asserted that cases scheduled on a specific date should move forward on that date, and that if the hearing needs to be postponed to provide more time to lawyers, every effort should be made to complete the case on the new court date.
If judges fail to comply, the circular said, the supreme court will be taking disciplinary measures.
According to Phileleftheros, the circular has dismayed judges who argue the delays are not their fault.
The judges asserted that cases are often postponed due to the limited time they have available as a result of the large bulk of cases that are brought before them. Also, delays in closing a case are often due to lawyers who ask for repeated postponements for practical reasons.
Only through the assignment of long-delayed cases to new judges, a simplification of procedures, and the establishment of out-of-court solutions, can the issue of long delays be solved, judges said.
In March, it emerged that EU data for the year 2016 showed that Cyprus ranks among the slowest countries in the world in terms of receiving swift justice. While the EU average required to complete a case is eight months, Cyprus needs more than 2,500 days – almost seven years.
The number of judges per 100,000 citizens is low, 12 in Cyprus compared to an EU average of 20.
At a conference held earlier in the year, former central bank head Chrystalla Georgadji said that to resolve backlogged cases, 26 new judges are needed.