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Slow justice encourages fraud

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The delays in the Cyprus justice system is well known and “accepted” by everybody.

Cyprus Court delays are next to the bottom with Zimbabwe that shows what a mess we are in.

The Government tried to introduce an arbitration centre for legal disputes which failed tragically, while international investors in Cyprus when making an agreement, refer to British or French courts as an example.

One of the reasons for Brexit is that EU countries have a legal/court system that is of a low standard compared with that of the British High Court/Court of Appeal.

Regrettably, small politics does not allow Cyprus to adopt a more speedy and efficient system of justice and this despite the warnings of the EU that our justice procedures should be improved.

However, instead of getting new judges of quality, we have opted for new Justice buildings.

The never-ending postponement of court cases, the over-charging of legal fees, the time it takes for a court case to be decided (approximately 4-6 years) encourages wrongdoers.

Left-wing parties seem to support the delays so as not to punish the “poor”. We now see the cases on NPLs postponed which causes damage to the financiers and others.

There is an improvement on evictions for non-payment of rents which came to us as a surprise.

The government, supported by one political party, has passed a law for non-payment of rents with eviction in 3 months.

But this refers only to tenants who are classed as being statutory.  Yet even now we see that the 3-month eviction is delayed by the communist party.

If we look now at public projects, the tenders are postponed for years (see speed cameras, the Paphos-Polis road, Paphos marina).

It is beyond us how one tender can submit an objection for losing a job to the court, in the meantime, the project stands still.

We have suggested in this paper that those who object and lose, should pay the cost of the delay which could run into millions (depending on the project), any objection should be coupled with a bank guarantee to cover damages.

Relating to the justice situation and its ineffectiveness, we have reported 4 months ago on a problem that a client of ours faced.

An illegal structure (a bar/restaurant) developed with the silent permission of Paralimni Municipality within the beach protection zone without a planning or building permit without the availability of access, without the legal electricity and water supply.

Despite our complaints to the government and commissioners, there has been no response.

Having said this, do we expect foreign investors to be attracted to a country where justice does not work (and where the laws are not implemented)?

A shakeup is needed but how do we go about it?

One option is to report the wrongdoings to Al Jazeera, another is to support a political party which wants a change (impossible), another is to demonstrate (short-term again), especially outside the House of Representatives or report the wrongdoings (least effective).

Shall we give up?

No, and we should all try and try again despite the disappointments, since we believe in this country, in hoping this sad situation can be improved.

A glimmer of hope is the new chairman of the Bar Association (Mr Clerides) hopefully to be the next Attorney General or Minister of Justice.

A major improvement could be the encouragement of investigative reporters to whom the public can refer to for justice, we even suggested a yearly Pulitzer-type prize for reporters.

But we had objections, some of which came from the journalists themselves (not surprising since the media is controlled by political parties).

We now have the Auditor General going on the TV issuing his own verdicts on just about everything.

He has done a lot for good governance, but we are unsure how much damage he has done to Cyprus.