The House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation seen as the backbone of reforming the justice and judicial system – a development welcomed by the attorney-general and the justice minister.
The plenum voted through two amending laws relating to the administering of justice and the operation of the courts.
Before doing so, parliament last week had voted to amend the constitution itself.
In a statement, Attorney-general Giorgos Savvides thanked political parties and MPs for their “responsible stance” in playing a part in making the reform a reality.
“At the same time, I consider it my responsibility to point out that now is the time for all stakeholders to work in a targeted way, so that the benefits from modernising the structure and functioning of Cypriot courts can be felt by people as soon as possible.”
The new laws “make the administration of justice faster and more efficient, drastically reducing decision-making time,” Justice Minister Steffi Drakou said.
Last week’s vote in the House, amending the constitution, had reactivated the Supreme Constitutional Court – which remained dormant under the so-called ‘law of necessity’ since the Turkish Cypriot community withdrew from the functions of the state.
During this time the jurisdictions of the Supreme Constitutional Court had been assigned to the Supreme Court. Now, both courts will operate again.
In addition to having a repurposed Supreme Court and a Supreme Constitutional court, the two bills passed on Thursday provide for the establishment of an Appellate Court.
The specialised Supreme Constitutional Court will resolve any constitutional matter as may be referred by any other court, as well as any administrative review matter as may be referred by the new Appellate Court.
The Supreme Court will be repurposed as a third level-appellate court, competent to resolve any matter referred to it by the new (second level) Appellate Court and not falling within the competence of the Supreme Constitutional Court. In effect, the Supreme Court will deal with appeals on civil and criminal cases.
As a result of the rejigging, the Supreme Constitutional Court will take on some 377 pending cases; the Supreme Court 1,523 pending cases; and the new Appellate Court 3,149 pending cases.
The reform’s key objective is to speed up the administering of justice.