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Cyprus

New courts should ‘enhance people’s trust’

10

The new look to the top tier of justice on the island – after 60 years of operation a restructure will see three new courts operating – was branded as “historic” by the Cyprus Bar Association on Tuesday .

It said the new system would “strengthen law and order, and further ensure compliance with fundamental principles such as accountability, transparency, independence, specialisation and integrity of the judiciary’s work…enhancing people’s trust in the justice system.”

Bar association head Christos Clerides noted, however, that decentralisation and speeding up the administration of justice are ongoing challenges.

The new system sees a Supreme Constitutional Court, a Court of Appeal, and a new Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court of 13 justices as it existed until now, has been split into a Supreme Constitutional Court (comprising nine judges) and the ‘new’ Supreme Court consisting of seven justices.

The increased number of judges (now 16) in the highest courts aims to de-concentrate the system, as the Supreme Court in its former format gathered many functions and responsibilities under one judicial body.

Now, the new Supreme Court judges will be able to specialise in civil and criminal matters. Their colleagues in the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) will specialise in constitutional and administrative matters.

But the bar association said reform of the justice system should be expanded to the lower courts.

The lawyers also called on the state to beef up expenditure on the courts.

The SCC will hear cases pertaining to the constitution, and will also examine cases where the president vetoes a bill and refers it to the courts.

As for the Court of Appeal, it will hear appeals against judgments by all courts – except for the rulings of the Supreme Court and the SCC.

And of as September, two more courts will start operating – an Admiralty Court and a Commercial Court.

Last year, the House passed the amendment for judicial reform after years of discussions and consultations.

The amendment to the constitution allowed for the reopening of the two supreme courts provided for in the constitution of the Republic, namely the Supreme Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Justice, but also the granting of additional third-degree jurisdiction to these two courts for the very first time.

The powers of the two courts had been merged into one, on the basis of the law of necessity, following the withdrawal of Turkish Cypriots from the government in 1963.

 

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