The House legal affairs committee on Wednesday began discussing a bill looking to create a special jurisdiction within district courts for the quick processing of financial disputes.
Edek leader Marinos Sizopoulos said the proposal, which has been co-signed by Edek and Diko, would establish a special division within district courts for direct appeal by borrowers who disagree with bank overdrafts or with the procedure followed by the credit institutions for the sale of their properties.
According to ministry representatives after the meeting, the proposal is almost identical to one submitted by the government in 2021 and subsequently withdrawn due to amendments submitted by the parties.
Asked whether the bill is unconstitutional, Sizopoulos explained that the only change in the specific bill is the removal of the provision giving only members of vulnerable groups, as defined by ministerial decree, the right to appeal.
The ministerial decree will have a subjective nature, he said, stressing that everyone should have free access to justice and adding that as the Legal Service had signed the bill, “for us there is no question of unconstitutionality.
“We hope that the delays and expediencies that defined the discussions in the past will be abandoned this time so that we can also offer the necessary protection to the public against the arbitrariness that the financial institutions have shown against them,” Sizopoulos said.
He added that it is thought this will protect borrowers to a large extent, helping with the timely and correct restructuring of loans so as to reduce their number. “It will also be for the benefit of the economy and the financial institution and above all for the benefit of public”.
Diko’s Christiana Erotokritou expressed the hope the bill will reach the House plenum soon, saying her party will do everything it can to get it there before it wraps up in December.
In his own statements, Akel’s Aristos Damianou said that the latest discussion was not new, recalling the original government proposal which was “authoritatively” scrapped in 2021 after “significant amendments” by opposition parties that would “secure the rights of borrowers and guarantors to unhindered access to justice, create the conditions for a fair trial and restore the balance between the rights of borrowers and banks”.
Damianou said the revival of the bill was a step in the right direction but not sufficient, which is why “we will bring back the comprehensive amendment that all the parties had agreed upon which, in our opinion, secures both rights and possibilities for the benefit of borrowers and guarantors”.