Lawyers protested outside Parliament on Wednesday during the legal committee meeting about the botched introduction of the new e-justice system.

The Cyprus Bar Association (CBA) announced the protest would be attended by members of the law profession from all over the island. A second protest has also been planned for Friday outside district courthouses.

In reference to the perceived shoddy handling of the transition by state services, lawyers arrived carrying a prominent banner reading, “We are co-operators of justice not ‘cameos’.”

Head of the CBA Michalis Vorkas said the situation had become intolerable and a complete debacle.

“Some people are complaining they can’t find their cases, law offices are severely impacted and not operating, and only cases physically registered are being tried,” Vorkas said.

Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC he detailed how despite state promises, glitches with online registrations, including payments, were recurrent with users randomly getting booted out, while other system bugs even broached issues of data security.

All cases were supposed to have been transferred from the predecessor system, iJustice, to the current platform.

“We have sent a heap of letters from the start, since 2022, urging the need to be certain the [new] system would work when introduced – we even sounded the alarm a few days prior [to it going live] and received [positive] assurances,” he added.

The head of the bar called for immediate access to justice for legal professionals and the public, and delivery of a complete and functional platform. Until this is delivered clear instructions should be issued to registrars and physical registration of cases reinstated, so as to ensure uninterrupted access to justice he said.

Deputy Minister of Innovation Nikodemos Damianos, for his part, said that the handling of the platform was critical and complex.

“It would be irresponsible to rush into shutting down the system in two to three days without exhausting solutions for it to be repaired,” Damianos said.

He detailed the system has been under implementation for over three years, when initially a timeframe of under two years had been expected.

“The system [already] underwent thirteen observation cycles,” the minister added.

He said time had been granted last week to correct the technical problems and the provider (IBM) had given constant assurances that this could be done.

According to Damianos, since Monday the company has been issued a strict warning, based on upholding of contractual clauses, and given five days to rapidly address the issue.

“If problems persist, I have given instructions to start preparations to be ready by Monday to return to the intermediate iJustice system,” the minister said.

The “preparations” entail reregistration of about ten days’ worth of cases registered physically or solely on the e-justice platform into the older platform.

The CBA meanwhile said the weeklong impasse in effect since the platform’s crash creates “unpredictable dangers and erodes on a daily basis [public] trust in the institution of the law, prohibiting the operation of a state of justice.”

“The securing of unhindered access to justice is a [crucial] responsibility and duty of the state,” CBA said, noting that the association itself bears no responsibility for the design and implementation of the system. The system had been implemented at a cost of six million euros.

The discussion by the House legal committee was attended by all competent officials from the justice ministry, the deputy ministry of innovation, representatives of the legal service, the audit service, CBA and technology provider IBM.