As William E. Gladstone famously said “Justice delayed is Justice denied” and there is no question that delayed justice in Cyprus is “the norm”.

On one hand, the Courts are overwhelmed (Cyprus has one of the slowest legal systems in the European Union) and this status quo is then systematically abused by greedy and unethical lawyers in Cyprus, which for most of the time does not benefit their clients.

Of course there are always exceptions, and sometimes delays in the legal system can be perfect for you (depending on your case / legal problem) but as a general rule, this is a very unpleasant situation to be faced with.

In brief, when you have a legal problem, you will want to get things sorted in ‘a reasonable amount of time’ and  it’s very likely your lawyer will tell you that they will take care of everything, don’t worry and then ask for a hefty retainer to move forward. They will then either file your claim, or respond to a claim against you in the right amount of time. After that, this is where you’ll start feeling the pain because, as you’ll soon discover, the most spoken words in Cypriot courts are “Your Honour, we need more time”. Why?. That’s simple. Lawyers take on far too much work and do so because those lovely retainers keep their businesses running and it’s the easiest way for lawyers to collect large sums of money from vulnerable people facing a legal problem. The problem is that your lawyer, not matter how good you think they are, is unlikely to have enough time and/or human resources to work on all of the cases they have taken on. This is a big issued, because one thing is definite, good legal work requires time and yet, the vast majority of lawyers in Cyprus are time poor and  do not leave themselves enough ‘headroom’ for all of the  the twists and turns that will come once a case is in court. That’s why they love requesting postponements and the Courts are equally happy to grant postponements and extensions because they too have a huge backlog of pending cases which need to be dealt with.

Due to all of the above, an average civil case in Cyprus can take between 5 and 8 years to complete. Criminal cases can also take many years (2-5 years) and in relation to the latter, if you are on remand, you’ll be in prison for a very long time before a final decision is reached. If you are granted what is know as ‘a community sanction or measure’ or bail as you would know it, the case is likely to take even longer. So what you might say. Well in criminal cases, you have attend every court hearing and there can be many. You clear your day, you go to court (which can be very stressful in and of itself) and then your case is postponed again for any number of reasons. In civil cases, you don’t always need to attend court, so you wait for an update from your esteemed lawyer and when it comes, it is nearly always the same story. “We had to ask for more time” or, “the other side have asked for more time”, or, “the court have postponed the hearing because they had too many other cases to deal with”. All of this is 100% true.   

On occasions, delays may work in your favour and we’ll explore that topic at a later stage, however, if you are facing a civil legal challenge, or you have filed a case because you have a problem that is affecting your life right now, or you have been charged with a criminal offence, or you are the victim of a crime and are looking for justice,  the aforementioned delays can seriously affect you, your family, your business and/or your personal property. The affects on your mental health cannot be underestimated and nobody really cares. The lawyers see this everyday, it is what it is and the same applies for the judges.

In the meantime, after a short while, your lawyer will ask for more money. In their defence, even when cases are postponed, they have to attend court, hang around for anything from 30 minutes but ofter longer, however, often you are paying your lawyer to ask for more time so he/she/them can actually kick your case down the road and focus on urgent matters in other cases.

We’ll expand on all of this at a later stage and provide some real world examples of just how atrocious things can be, however, for the moment, please be very careful about paying large retainers to lawyers unless you are certain they have your back. Don’t believe the hype from their slick sales pitches or from their websites. Ask the following simple questions:

1) Have you handled a case like mine before?

2) Did you win?

3) How long did it take

4) Can you tell me the case numbers and provided me with the final judgements in those cases. 

If they can’t give you immediate and convincing answers to the simple questions above, something is wrong, especially when it comes to giving you case number and judgments.

This is a huge topic and we will update this post over time with some real world examples of just how atrocious things can really be.

Thanks for reading and please share this story with your friends, family, business colleagues etc.