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Lawyers protest collapse of eJustice platform

Members of the Cyprus Bar Association (CBA) have carried out the first of two planned protests against the collapse of the eJustice platform.

The first protest, on the morning of 24 January, took place outside Parliament while a second action is anticipated to take place outside the District Courts from 10.30am to 11.30am on the morning of 26 January.

The House Legal Committee was due to convene during the first protest. CBA President Michalis Vorkas told journalists the following after attending the committee meeting: "Since last Monday, that is, for ten days, intense efforts have been made to enable lawyers and courts to work. But the conclusion is that this cannot be done, because the specific system either collapses or operates in such a way that some rights are violated. This cannot be permitted. An effort was made to give the contracting company an opportunity to make some corrective actions in the system."

Vorkas continued, "Justice is the pillar of the state that ensures human rights and the rule of law. I will not allow lawyers to continue working under these conditions. We cannot ignore the fact that rights are being violated, we cannot ignore the fact that the continuation of this situation will certainly create additional and more serious, ambivalent problems. Those in charge, who know the problem and admit the problem, should find the solutions to get out of this impasse."

Vorkas then stated that, "As the Cyprus Bar Association we have expressed our strong concern and our protest both to the Supreme Court and to the Executive Power and have suggested finding and implementing the best solution under the circumstances, for providing access to justice. That is, to allow any party who wishes to resort to the justice system, to be able to register their unsigned documents, their lawsuits, or anything else related through physical registration as was done before. It is the only solution under the circumstances, since the so-called ejustice system cannot operate today."

At the same time, he continued, "We call on the authorities to work in such a way that, as soon as possible, the intended modernisation of the justice system takes a substantial form and the much-desired system of electronic justice is implemented in Cyprus. I don't know what this is, it's not the Bar Association's job, the CBA wants society to continue to access justice without obstacles, for its lawyers and firms to start working and at the same time for clients not to complain. Cyprus today is being left exposed to the entire society, even to the foreign investment sector and others, who have invested in Cyprus and who expect the justice system of Cyprus to follow their requests."

Dozens of lawyers congregated outside the House, some holding banners, one of which, implies that lawyers are more than 'bit players' when it comes to the justice.

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As stated in a CBA announcement, its Council has expressed its continued and intensifying frustration created by what its describes as the insurmountable problems accumulated by the inadequacy of the eJustice platform, resulting in the obstruction of access to justice.

The Council unanimously decided to demand immediate access to a complete and functional platform for real access to justice for officials and citizens, and for clear instructions to the relevant registrars to be given for physical registrations to be allowed, at least until the delivery of a fully functional electronic platform.

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"The situation that has been created for a week with the implementation of a system with unsafe procedures, which tend to create unpredictable risks, daily impairs trust in the institution of justice, and ultimately affects the operation of the rule of law," the CBA announcement says.

At the same time, it requests that the appropriate measures be taken immediately, without further delay, with the sole aim of the speedy implementation of a safe and effective electronic justice system.

At the same time, the CBA underlined that, in spite of its own efforts and the promises made by the competent bodies, there had been no substantial improvement towards restoring the system’s operation.

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It also makes it clear that ensuring unimpeded and unhindered access to justice is the utmost responsibility and duty of the state and that the CBA bears no responsibility for the design and implementation of the system.

"While the quality of justice, which is a basic condition in a privileged state, is affected, the competent state bodies cannot and should not remain indifferent," the CBA concluded.

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