A team of UK legal experts have arrived to the Republic of Cyprus is on the island to give guidance and support a continuing programme for reforming the justice system, judicial review and parliamentary proceedings on the island.
In what is part of an EU-funded project, led by a Lord from the UK House of Lords, the team met with the institutions committee of the Cyprus Supreme Court towards the end of last month. During their stay in Cyprus, the foreign experts will also be meeting with the Courts Reform Steering Committee and the Cyprus Bar Association in order to review Cyprus courts’ civil procedure rules.
The foreign experts previously came to Cyprus in May last year to assess the judicial system, when they first presented their preliminary recommendations to the Cyprus supreme court for improving its civil procedure and litigation regulations. After the visit, the supreme court’s institutions committee published a progress report on its website.
The final report of the UK experts is scheduled to be revealed next month. The European Union Justice Scoreboard 2017 showed that achieving greater efficiency in the system remained “a grave challenge” however, perceived judicial independence in Cyprus remains relatively high.
Cyprus has the Highest Level of Court Backlogs in Europe
It noted that the length of court proceedings and the level of backlogs in litigious civil and commercial cases are among the highest in the EU.
Regarding the superiority of the Cyprus justice system, the EU Justice Scoreboard also showed the following areas for concern or procedural deficiencies regarding:
The use and availability of information and communication technologies.
Standards on timing for case management or other performance measures were found to be lacking.
Only a small proportion of judgements are publicly available online.
Alternative dispute resolution methods are rarely utilised or known about.
The Lords also found significant delays of up to four years in Cyprus courts of first instance, and a further delay of up to five years for appeals. Such delays historically have led to the state (as ordered by the European Court of Human Rights) to pay damages to Cyprus citizens who were negatively impacted by those delays.