In light of the need to take measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, a meeting of the President and Members of the Supreme Court was held on 16.3.2020 at the Supreme Court, in the presence of the Minister of Justice and Public Order, the Attorney General, and the President of the Cyprus Bar Association.
It was unanimously agreed as follows:
- Justice must and will continue to function as one of the constitutional powers of the State and as an important pillar of a state of law.
- The restrictions announced by the Council of Ministers to prevent the spread of the virus and to protect public health inevitably affect the functioning of the Courts and should therefore limit the concentration of persons in the Courts and the adjudication of most cases, for the protection of public health, with the exception of urgent cases as set out below.
The Plenary of the Supreme Court has exercised its powers in regards to the foregoing and has decided as follows:
A. The adjudication or further promotion of all cases is temporarily suspended in all Courts, of every stage and jurisdiction, as of 16.3.2020 until 30.4.2020, with the following exceptions:
Regarding civil cases, the following will be heard:
- Applications for the issuance of interim orders in cases of extreme urgency. The urgency of the judgment shall be determined by the competent Judge, who shall grant a relevant permission;
- Appeals concerning the auctioning of immovable property under Part VIA of the Transfer and Mortgage of Immovable Properties Law of 1965, as amended;
- Applications for the issuance of Habeas Corpus writs;
- Extradition procedures of fugitives or wanted persons;
- Urgent prerogative writs, at the discretion of the Court of Justice;
- Urgent proceedings concerning political asylum, at the discretion of the Court of Justice;
- Urgent appeals at the discretion of the Court of Justice.
Regarding criminal cases, the following shall be heard:
- Cases where defendants are in custody;
- Cases where the detention of suspects or persons charged is sought, including imprisonment;
- Cases concerning the Quarantine Law and the related Orders issued by the Minister for Health;
- Urgent cases, at the discretion of the Court of Justice; and
- Appeals where a party is serving a prison sentence or is in custody or any appeal which is deemed to be exceptionally urgent by the Court of Justice.
Urgent proceedings related to the issuance of a psychiatric hospitalization order, legal aid pertaining to the above, or other orders concerning the Family Violence Law, etc. It is understood that in the filing and adjudication of such orders, the element of urgency is subject to the discretion of the competent Court.
The issuance of judgements is also excluded for all stages and proceedings.
B. As far as filings at the registrars are concerned, the following shall apply:
Registrars will accept the following filings:
- Actions, appeals, general applications or other procedures, accompanied by applications for the issuance of urgent interim orders. The urgency of the filing shall be determined by the competent Court;
- Appeals in respect of auction procedures under Part VIA of the Law as above;
- Appeals and urgent prerogative writs, at the discretion of the Court of Justice;
- Applications with reference to extraditions of fugitives;
- Criminal cases seeking the detention of persons charged;
- Criminal cases pursuant to the Quarantine Law and related Orders issued by the Minister of Health;
- Criminal cases whose filing is specifically requested by the Honorable Attorney General as a matter of urgency.
The filing of applications for legal aid in relation to the above exceptions will also be accepted. Applications which refer to psychiatric hospitalization order procedures or to the issuance of urgent orders under any law as set out above will also be accepted.
The filing of any cases in respect of which a time limit and / or limitation is provided by the Constitution or the Law will also be accepted.
The induction of oaths in cases of extreme urgency will be further accepted at the discretion of the competent Registrar.
C. The deadlines determined by the Rules and the time limits determined at trials for the execution of judicial acts are suspended from 16.3.2020 to 30.4.2020.
D. Issues of the operation of the Courts arising from the application of these measures shall be settled by decisions of the Administrative President of each Court.
The Supreme Court may at any time amend the above directions according to the prevailing circumstances.
For more information or legal advice, please contact your Harris Kyriakides partner or any of our lawyers.