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Court rules unconstitutional MPs’ push to delay evictions

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has ruled as unconstitutional a bill approved by parliament extending a moratorium on tenant evictions due to the pandemic.

The decision essentially has no bearing as the moratorium ended on December 31, 2020, but it will serve as precedent against similar actions by parliament.

In a ruling issued on Tuesday but issued on Wednesday, the court said the bill violated the separation of powers as it interfered with the authority of the courts.

Parliament had initially suspended evictions earlier in 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic hit the island, forcing the government to roll out strict measures to prevent its spread, including lockdowns.

The first moratorium was in force until May 31 and was extended until September 30. On both occasions the decision was found to be justified due to the restrictions.

The third extension however, which was voted early in October 2020, could not be justified by the same conditions at the time.

President Nicos Anastasiades vetoed the bill, which ended before the Supreme Court after parliament refused to accept the veto.

“The automatic suspension of the procedure to issue decisions and orders on evictions at any stage, without hearing the other side and without a court decision on whether such a suspension is justified, constitutes interference with the courts’ authority and a violation of the separation of powers,” the Supreme Court said.

The court said the right to access the court was not absolute and it could have limits provided “they do not restrict or diminish access … in a manner or extent that destroys the core of the right.”

 

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