The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the operation of the Cypriot courts: Τechnological challenges and the maintenance of Rule of Law

A comparative analysis with other common law jurisdictions by Dr. Demetra Loizou, Lecturer in International law and Legal Skills, School of Law, UCLan Cyprus and Dr. Despina Christofi, Lecturer in International Commercial Arbitration and Investment law School of Law, UCLan Cyprus.

The COVID-19 outbreak did not find the Cypriot legal system in an idle state. On the contrary, the judicial system of the Republic of Cyprus is under review since 2017. The crisis immediately enhanced chronic challenges faced by the Cypriot legal system, most prominently in terms of achieving greater efficiency in the face of acute delays and backlogs. The Supreme Court’s response to the unprecedented health crisis followed suit the Ministerial Council’s measures for preventing the spread of the virus and protecting public health.

Inevitably, crises exacerbate problems; still, they may also provide a fertile ground for accelerating judicial reform. This opportunity for reflection and change should not take place in vacuum; it should take into consideration the indispensable role of the Cypriots courts in upholding the Rule and Law, and for that matter, their place within the broader judicial network in Europe and beyond.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis brought into view the unpreparedness and lack of capacity of the Cypriot Courts for making use of ICT in the conduct of judicial proceedings and the extent to which the digitalisation of Cypriot justice lags behind its EU counterparts. The blog post briefly navigates the immediate responses of other selective jurisdictions to the current global extraordinary circumstances in order underline the indisputable necessity of bringing the Cypriot courts at pace with technological developments. The comparative analysis is pursued by focusing on other common law jurisdictions, with whom Cyprus shares the same adversarial system and similar civil procedure rules.

The blog post concludes that these unprecedented and hard times can be seen as a good opportunity for long-term changes and the permanent improvement of the operation of Cypriot courts, which will enhance effective judicial protection and will contribute to the protection of the Rule of Law in the country.

Read the full article at UCLan’s Cyprus Law Blog

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