Reform of the Justice System in Cyprus


The judicial system of each country is the cornerstone of democracy and for this reason, there is an obligation on the part of the authorities of each country to do such reforms so that there is no delay in the administration of justice. As William Edward Gladstone has rightly put it ‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’

The judicial system in Cyprus needs immediate and modernizing reform, as there is a long delay in the administration of justice, due to the accumulation of many cases that have been waiting for years to be tried.

The delay in the administration of justice undermines the sense of justice of the citizens, affects the rule of law and is an obstacle to the economic development of the country and its social stability.

The chronic problem of delays in the administration of justice must be radically addressed in order to have a more efficient, faster and flexible judicial system.

The House of Representative has recently progressed with the passing of three bills regarding the judicial reform in Cyprus. The reform recommends the separation of the Supreme Court into two Supreme Courts i.e. one Supreme Constitutional Court and one Supreme Court as provided for in the 1960 Constitution before the 1964 legislation was enacted when the one unified Supreme Court was established. It also proposes the creation of a new Second Instance Court, i.e. the Court of Appeal which will hear appeals from the First Instance Courts (civil and criminal) and in turn it will refer the most important matters to the higher tier of the Judiciary.

It is reasonable to ask whether the reintroduction of the aforementioned system, which had been in operation for four years, i.e. from 1960 to 1964, and which was ruled inadmissible in the Ibrahim case, is contrary to the principle of the Doctrine of Necessity.

In 1964, when the judicial system could no longer function due to the departure of the Turkish judges, the House of Representatives enacted the 1964 Law creating a Supreme Court. This was done with the well-known Ibrahim case which is the cornerstone of the Cyprus Constitution. The Court in that case adopted the principle salus populi suprema lex esto, i.e. the salvation of the people is above the law.

Many well-versed lawyers have expressed the view that the Government is paradoxically invoking the Doctrine of Necessity to return to the 1960 Constitution to justify the abolition of the sole Supreme Court and the restoration of the two Courts.

This "assumption" poses many dangers and in so doing suggests that the Ibrahim decision was wrong. Moreover, it will give the Turkish side the opportunity to accuse the Republic of Cyprus of wrongly invoking the Doctrine of Necessity. The prevailing view is that doing so may destroy the Doctrine of Necessity which is the basis of the current constitution of the Republic of Cyprus.

The reform of the judiciary should aim for specificity. Specialization means speed, efficiency and quality. The speed, efficiency and quality of the administration of justice depend on the creation of specialized departments at all levels and stages of the justice system.

To deliver quality justice, both the executive and the legislature need to be vigilant in adopting appropriate measures.

In my humble opinion, proper reform of the judiciary is absolutely necessary for its proper functioning. The primary objective of the proposed reform of the Judiciary should be to preserve the confidence of citizens in our Courts. This can only be achieved by ensuring that the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, who approach the Cypriot Courts, will be able to achieve justice quickly and efficiently. Therefore, any reform should focus on this aspect. I really hope that the reform passed by the House of Representatives will not create further delay in the administration of justice by introducing new procedures before different courts.

The content of this article is valid on the date of its first publication. It is intended to provide general guidelines on the subject and does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you seek professional advice on this matter before acting on the information provided. For further information or advice, please contact Mr Savvas Savvides, partner and director at the law firm of Michael Kyprianou & Co LLC in Paphos, on +357 26930800 or via email at savvas.savvides@kyprianou.com