The House justice committee on Wednesday started discussion on the establishment of a commercial and maritime disputes court, in a bid to speed up legal procedures and boost Cyprus’ prospects as an attractive investment destination.
Justice Minister Stefi Drakou, who participated at the meeting, said these were two very important bills as they are part of the broader plan for the reform of the courts and the judiciary.
According to Drakou, the bills provide for the establishment of two main branches. The commercial one will hear cases of financial disputes of more than two million. The maritime disputes court will deal with all cases that concern it and are currently under the jurisdiction of other courts. The establishment of this court is considered an innovation in civil jurisdiction, she added.
“If Investors do not know that there is specialisation, that there will be quick adjudication of their disputes, if they do not know that they can expect quality in the adjudication of cases, they will not choose Cyprus as a financial hub,” Drakou said.
She also said that her ministry eyes positively the introduction of court procedures in English, a wish by many, as it is important for international parties to understand the process. Drakou said if this language change is agreed, there should be a change in the Constitution which currently stipulates that the two official languages of the courts are Greek and Turkish.
“The passing of the bills will contribute to the acceleration of the trial of cases, since there is a serious delay in matters of civil jurisdiction,” Drakou said. This will also contribute to the goal of specialisation since it will deal exclusively with important commercial disputes and all issues and cases concerning the maritime disputes court.
“And, certainly, it will contribute to the effort to attract new investments, something that is sought by economic actors that choose Cyprus as a financial centre with a high level of services,” she added.
She said that all stakeholders such as the Supreme Court, the Bar Association, the financial world and employers’ associations support the bills, while her ministry is open to suggestions.
Head of the committee, Disy MP Nicos Tornaritis, said this was a very important issue that, if passed, would be an important element in the reform of the judiciary in Cyprus. The bills, he added, are part of the broader framework of the Republic of Cyprus’ Recovery and Sustainability Plan.
Stakeholders were asked to send by next week their response to the questions put forth by MPs while it is expected to start point-by-point discussion within the next 15 days so that the bills are tabled to the House plenum to vote before Christmas.
Diko MP Panikos Leonidou said Cyprus is considered as a services centre and if this bill is finally passed, the country’s competitiveness will be strengthened, since cases from abroad can be tried in Cyprus.