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Justice reform to be approved by Easter, minister says

The supreme court

Justice Minister Giorgos Savvides said Wednesday the state aimed to have a package of bills designed to reform the island’s justice system passed by parliament by Easter.

The minister was speaking after the House legal affairs committee finished discussing the most important bill of the package, that of dispensation of justice.

Savvides said this was the most crucial and bulkiest bill that concerned all the structural changes in the courts, namely the composition of the supreme court, the supreme constitutional court and the court of appeals. The bill defines their jurisdictions as well as who appoints judges at all levels. It also includes most issues concerning the structural changes of the reform, he said.

“The goal is to have these bills approved before Easter,” Savvides said, adding that the government is placing great importance on the reform of the courts.

According to the head of the House legal affairs committee, Disy’s Giorgos Georgiou, the next step would be amending the constitution, a necessary action so that the reform laws are legit.

Discussion on the constitutional amendment will begin at the committee’s next session, he said, expressing hope that examination of the package and the ensuing vetting would be completed as soon as possible.

Savvides said after the constitutional amendment and some amendments to the law on the courts, “we will be able to carry on, at least to a large extent, with the legislative change that needs to be made for the courts to function in their new form.”

He added that the laws on the commercial court and the admiralty would follow.

“I hope that we will soon be able to proceed with the adoption of these laws,” the minister said. “For my part, I will do whatever it takes, investing as much time as necessary, both in private meetings and in parliament, to speed up the passing of the reform bills by parliament.”
Reforming the judiciary is one of the government’s biggest challenges, as it would mean improvement in a number of other areas.

Cyprus ranks among the slowest countries in the world in terms of delivering justice, a conference in Nicosia heard last March.

While the EU average required to complete a case is eight months, Cyprus needs more than 2,500 days.

Civil lawsuits often take a decade to complete, especially if appeals are involved.

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