The Supreme Constitutional Court has upheld an appeals-court ruling that the second-term appointment of the former Commissioner for the Protection of Competition Loukia Christodoulou was legal, the legal service said.

The latest decision was important as the legal wrangling had left in limbo every fine issued by the commissioner during her tenure in office.

Christodoulou’s second term from April 24, 2018, to April 23, 2023 had been challenged by the cattle-breeders association, which had been fines for imposing unfair prices and terms in the marketplace.

The court of first instance – the administrative court – had sided with the cattle breeders suggesting her second term had not been legal and that she had overstayed her tenure, prompting a slew of legal complications for the commission.

It centred on the premise that because she had earlier served as a member of the commission, though not as president, the second of her two terms as president was illegal because she had previously served as a member. Therefore, her second term constituted a third term and was out of the bounds of legality it was argued.

However, in December 2023, the second-term appointment was deemed legal by an appeals court following an appeal by the attorney-general’s office (AG).

It deemed that that the period of an individual’s appointment was measured separately when they were member or chairperson “since the positions are distinct.”.

The applicants then appealed this decision and asked for the Supreme Constitutional Court to rule on the correct interpretation of the legislative provision regarding the formation of the commission.

On Thursday it issued a ruling confirming the appeals-court decision in December and validating the appointment, the legal service said.

The nine-bench plenary session dealt with whether the word “tenure” in the provisions of the law referred to the term in office regardless of title, or whether the position of board member and president were distinct.

“As the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled, the Court of Appeal’s decision to deem the renewal legal was based on the correct legal principles,” the AG’s office said.

The court also awarded costs in favour of the Republic. 

More importantly, the latest ruling puts the controversy to bed and secures the legality of all decisions and fines issued by the protection of competition commission during Christodoulou’s second term, which cannot now be challenged.