The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a law mandating that from now on any criminal trial be carried out by a court in whose district the offence in question was committed.

Previously, it was possible for a district court to hold a criminal trial regarding an offence committed in a different district. For example, if the offence happened in Nicosia, the trial could take place in a Limassol district court. That will no longer be the case.

The relevant legislative proposal was brought by MP Costas Efstathiou. It abolishes a temporary clause, which entered into effect in 1974 and which had allowed for a derogation from the Courts Law that stipulates that only a court located in the jurisdiction where a crime was committed can try the case.

This derogation is now abolished.

Efstathiou said that the temporary clause – meant to facilitate people dispersed across the districts after the war of 1974 – was over time “abused” by attorneys. Lawyers would file a case where it suited them, forcing people – such as defendants and witnesses – to travel to a different district for the trial.

Now, the MP said, the concept of the ‘natural judge’ has been fully reinstated. The ‘natural judge’ refers to the judge who has territorial jurisdiction.

Efstathiou’s bill passed by a unanimous vote.