As if it was not bad enough with trial delays in Cyprus the coronavirus crisis has prompted additional concern over the day after’s dramatic state of play with lawyers calling for as many hearings as possible to continue remotely.
Phileleftheros reports that a number of lawyers have sent letters to the Cyprus Bar Association calling for initiatives to be taken. And for telephone, video and other technology to be used so that as many hearings as possible continue remotely.
This practice could apply to cases pending before the Supreme Court, Administrative Court and District Court, they point out.
In addition, proposals are made for courts to continue operation in July and August in a bid to fill the gap to be left from the coronavirus-prompted delays.
In fact, lawyers point out that they are left with unpaid fees and zero income, while the closure of case protocols restricts the registration of new procedures.
Head of the island’s Supreme Court Myron Nikolatos told Phileleftheros that they are considering the possibility of courts remaining open during the summer holidays. However, final decisions have not been taken yet.
He also said that courts now operate with reduced staff and only hear urgent cases, so as to comply with all government directives and decrees aiming to prevent the spread of the virus and protect public health.
As for proposed teleconferences, he said this is something the Supreme Court has under consideration. “After all, some of our own conferences are now conducted via the telephone,” he added.
“We will have to see how long the pandemic will last, and how easy it will be to carry out remote hearings. This situation is unprecedented, something that we experience for the first time ever. Certainly, the concerns of lawyers are valid and under consideration by judges,” he also said.
The Supreme Court is set to hold two meetings in April to discuss these concerns, and examine and evaluate all possibilities. Announcements will follow, Nikolatos said.
By Demetra Landou