MPs urged to vote for justice reform

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Justice Minister Stephie Dracos argued that Cyprus’ notoriously slow justice system would be fast-tracked provided MPs passed three much-needed reform bills reshaping the court system.

The three bills tabled by Dracos’ ministry create a new Supreme Court, a Supreme Constitutional Court, a Commercial and a Naval court.

While cases linger in courts for up to seven years on average, the new courts could deliver justice within two or three years.

Dracos tabled data prepared by the Supreme Court according to which the new Constitutional Court will handle a backlog of 377 appeals, while the new Supreme Court would manage 1,591 cases, and the new Appeal Court will push through 3,149.

According to Dracos, the new Supreme Court and Constitutional Court will be in a position to deliver justice on any given case within three and two years, respectively.

The minister argued that the new structure of the Supreme Court would review 500 cases a year.

“With a first glance at the data, we can conclude that if 500 cases are heard per year, it means the time to complete the trial will be three years and two years in the Constitutional Court,” said Dracos.

“Currently, we know that hearing an appeal could take up to seven years. The new Court of Appeal, which will consist of 16 judges, could handle an estimated 800 cases per year, delivering justice in two to three years.”

Attorney-General George Savvides told MPs that passing the bills does not violate the constitution.

He has made recommendations to the Supreme Court to further alleviate the delay problem.

Savvides said that he has also suggested that regulations governing courts are tweaked, allowing judges of lower courts to hand out sentences of up to seven years to reduce the heavy backlog of cases at the Criminal Courts.

Cyprus has been told by the European Commission to reform its notoriously slow justice system, and its recommendations are linked to the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility.