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AG’s office sidesteps House debate on unfair contracts

Attorney general Costas Clerides

Lawmakers were irked on Tuesday when the attorney-general’s office again failed to show up at a scheduled discussion of the issue of unfair terms in contracts drawn up by banks.

MPs of the House commerce committee said they would give the AG’s office one more chance to attend, otherwise they would issue a formal summons forcing state attorneys to appear in parliament.

Committee chair Andreas Kyprianou (Disy) said dozens of cases are pending relating to unfair contract terms.

Following complaints filed by consumers, dossiers were compiled by the commerce ministry’s Consumer Protection Service and forwarded to the AG’s office five years ago.

To date, Kyprianou said, the Law Office of the Republic has led not a single case to court.

Under current legislation, a court has the power to issue an order forcing a contracting party – a bank for instance – to scrub unfair terms in a contract and take remedial measures.

MP stressed it was important for such cases to be taken to court, because a single decision could set a precedent regarding the interest banks charge on loans in arrears.

It would help many distressed borrowers restructure their loans.

Akel MP Costas Costa spoke of inexplicable delays by the AG’s office, adding that someone was making a mockery out of parliament.

And he suggested that the commerce ministry – the government – itself might be less than keen to put the banks on the spot.

More than two years ago, back in December 2017, MPs were told that a state attorney had recently been appointed to handle these matters and the first cases would be brought to court soon.

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