President’s Blog: Cyprus
President’s blog: Cyprus
By Frances Edwards
In January 2015, I had the pleasure of travelling to Cyprus for a short visit with our Director of International. Our visit had several aims; to meet with students who are doing CILEx courses, to meet their training provider, and look at the opportunities in Cyprus for CILEx.
The training provider, Private Institute of Law, hosted our visit. The Directors are Alexandra Elliott and Androulla Poutziouris. They are both Solicitors who trained in the UK and have returned to live in Cyprus with their families.
By way of background information, Cyprus has a population of around 800,000 and 5,000 lawyers working mainly in small firms. The Cyprus legal system is similar to the system of law in England and Wales. The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus, principles of Common law and equity law, are enacted by members of their House of Representatives. There are District Courts and the Supreme Court. There is no distinction between Solicitors and Barristers and all lawyers are members of Cyprus Bar Association, who regulates licences and disciplinary measures. There are local Bar Associations, 1 for each district in Cyprus. The Cyprus Bar Association is a member of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association. All lawyers qualified to work in Cyprus have the right to appear in any court, but must have 5 years experience before appearing in the Supreme Court. Lawyers don’t usually specialise in one area but take on any case.
The court system is still paper based and the cases in the Court system often take many years to conclude. Conveyancing is also still paper based. Matrimonial law is different as there is a need to ask for permission of the church to divorce.
Alexandra and Androulla have some great ideas to move forward with CILEx. They had organised a full diary of meetings for us to meet the students and a range of members of the legal profession. All our meetings started by giving background information on CILEx, how our membership of over 20,000 is made up and our training route to achieve Fellowship grade and become a qualified lawyer, without the need to go to University.
I have listed the meetings, to give you an idea of the people we met.
Monday – 19th January 2015
We met the Directors of the Private Institute of Law who offer CILEx courses in Cyprus and went through the diary of meetings they had arranged.
Our first meeting was with Mr Andros Kyprianou – the Leader of the AKEL party, which is the opposition party.
We went to the Supreme Court in Nicosia to meet Mrs Irene Christodoulou, the High Registrar of the Supreme Court.
Whilst there, we asked if the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was available. Mr Myron Michael Nicolatos agreed to meet us. This was not a pre-arranged meeting and was a bit of a coup.
We were then taken on a tour of the Supreme Court. This is a relatively new building. The Courts are made up of courtrooms that resemble pods.
That evening, Alexandra and Androulla took us to a Cypriot taverna in Oroklina, Larnaca. This was a real treat as it was my birthday.
TUESDAY 20th January 2015
We travelled to Dhekelia to meet Captain Ian Barker – Head of Dhekelia Education Centre, British Army Base. The Private Institute of Law deliver Level 2 Legal Studies there.
Whilst at Dhekelia Army base, we met with a group of students who are doing the Level 2 Legal Studies course. They study their course over 3 terms, i.e. 30 weeks 1 evening per week. It appears that this is the only educational course offered on the base as the other courses were for such things as quilting and zumba. I was struck by their enthusiasm and they are very keen to progress on to the professional courses.
We travelled to Larnaca and met Mr Tom Widows and Mr Doros Neokleous, Principals of the American Academy Institute. This is the oldest school in Cyprus. They already do A level law but are interested in running the Level 2 legal studies to give their students wider experience.
We met Mr Zacharias Chrysostomou – Chief of Police Services, at Police Headquarters in Nicosia.
We met Mr Rikkos Mappourides. MP for the governing party and Advocate. He owns Law offices in Nicosia (Rikkos Mappourides & Associates LLC).
Wednesday – 21st January 2015.
We met the President of Cyprus Bar Association, Mr Doros Ioaniddes and Ms Koulia Vakis, the Chief Director of the Bar Association.
We then visited one of the largest firms in Cyprus, Chrysses Demetriades. We spoke with Mr Polyvios Panyides and Mr Chris Georghiades.
The visit ended with a Drinks Reception which was held at the American Academy in Larnaca. There were approximately 50 people in attendance, including some we had met during our visit. I was asked to address the reception with a short speech which gave me the chance to give thanks to PIL and those we had met during our visit.
It was a lovely experience to be able to travel to Cyprus in January. When I got off the plane in Cyprus it was at least 10 degrees warmer than in the UK and the weather remained sunny and warm throughout the visit. We stayed in Larnaca which was central for some of the meetings, but we also travelled to Nicosia, Limassol and Dhekelia for meetings, which was a good way to see the island, albeit through the car window. The people that we met were very high profile and well respected in Cyprus. They showed an interest in CILEx and the training opportunities that we offer and I hope this is an opportunity for CILEx. We were able to take some photographs which I hope you will enjoy seeing. All in all, it was a very busy but productive few days. We are already following up the contacts we have made and I wish the Private Institute of Law the very best of luck for the future.