There are currently 126 pending complaints against lawyers in Cyprus out of 1,035 inherited by the current disciplinary board of the Cyprus Bar Association three years ago, attorney-general (AG) Giorgos Savvides said on Wednesday, hailing the fall in such cases.

Savvides, who holds the title of honorary president of the bar association, made the comment during his delivery of the opening address at the start of new elections for the president and board of the bar association.

The issue of complaints against lawyers is often a controversial subject in Cyprus where the view is that lawyers tend to close ranks around their own.

“With regard to matters of disciplinary control of lawyers, it appears that the work produced by the three levels of control that have been set up has yielded very positive results because, based on the latest information that has been communicated to me – and it is information from October 2023 – the backlog has been cleared,” Savvides said.

He said it was a positive sign that the election process had attracted the interest of many colleagues, which signalled a desire to collectively seek solutions to the serious issues that concern the legal world “and will better serve, with responsibility, honesty, integrity and respect for diversity the good of the legal profession”.

In the three years that have passed since the last election during which Christos Clerides was elected president, Savvides said serious legislative changes and regulations had taken place in the Cypriot judicial system.

The changes were compatible with and responded to the recommendations given by the anti-corruption body of the Council of Europe known as Greco, plus the Rule of Law of the European Commission. The result was that these changes had “fundamentally reformed the judicial system of our country, creating a new environment for the judicial and legal establishment, businesses, investors, citizens, society”, the AG said.

Savvides said this would be a challenging year for the profession since as of September 1 the new code for civil procedure rules (CPR) came into force and will apply to all cases filed after that date. The code is designed to provide easy, inexpensive and speedy justice.

“This is a huge leap of transition, both for lawyers and the judiciary,” said Savvides.

“However, I believe that with time and your professional competence and responsibility, the new institutions, with the new case management powers, will prove beneficial in various ways for the timely adjudication of cases,” he added.

As the largest institutional litigant in the courts, the office of the AG, Savvides said, considers that the new philosophy that governs the institutions will be “the first measurable element against which it will be judged whether we have the desired results of speedy and efficient adjudication of cases by the courts”.

“This is an issue in which you, as co-workers of justice, have an important role to play, so that the much-desired speedy justice can be achieved with the result that the public’s general image of the law will improve substantially in the coming years,” the AG said.

Savvides said he considers the cooperation between the legal service and the Cyprus Bar Association to be “extremely important”.