The challenges and achievements within the legal profession took centre stage on Wednesday as head of the bar association Christos Clerides said that he was proud of the body’s work.

In presenting the association’s work over the past year – and outlining its upcoming portfolio – Clerides emphasised this year’s major developments: the judicial reform package, the challenges raised by the ‘golden’ passports scandal and the sanctions against Russia.

While challenging, he said that the association has worked hard to prove itself to society.

“The association is now in society’s conscience as a living and breathing unit with an invaluable contribution,” Clerides said.

In the first instance, he said that the association took on a key role in working towards the judicial reform bills.

Notably, parliament in July passed legislation clearing the way for broad reform of the justice system that is hoped will shorten the time of litigation.

By a vote of 51 for and one against, the plenary voted through the 22nd amendment to the constitution, required to reactivate the Supreme Constitutional Court – which remained dormant under the so-called ‘law of necessity’ ever since the Turkish Cypriot community withdrew from the functions of the state.

Clerides explained that development will require the appointment of many new judges across the board.

As for the investment/passport issue, Clerides said that the association had to investigate “the small number of firms” which were involved.

He explained that the reports into the implicated firms are now reaching their final stage, after which the necessary sanctions or exonerations will take place.

Another issue outlined by Clerides is that of the latest round of sanctions against Russia, which forbids the provision of legal or advisory services in Russia. That means the association must ensure compliance with those measures amongst its members.

He also detailed that efforts are underway to ensure that all those who trained in the legal profession, practising or otherwise, must undergo a certain number of lifelong classes. Clerides said this will further deepen the links between those who have studied the legal profession.

Also at the press conference was Koulia Vaki, executive director, who said that the association has had a significant input at parliament. She stated that over the past few years they have attended 41 House legal committee meetings, 23 finance meetings, 22 energy meetings and eight human rights meetings, among others.