The need to promote Alternative Dispute Resolution in Cyprus

In recent years, it has become evident in several countries around the world that resorting to the judiciary is not always the most efficient way to resolve disputes. Due to the increased workload of the courts, resulting in delays in adjudicating cases, alternative dispute resolution is steadily gaining ground. Furthermore, alternative dispute resolution complements modern legal systems that require swift, speedy, and out-of-court final resolutions of disputes. The primary purpose of alternative dispute resolution is to resolve disputes that cannot be easily, effectively, or quickly resolved between the parties before resorting to the courts.

The main purpose of alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and arbitration, is to provide a fast and cost-effective resolution of disputes, thus avoiding referral to the court as a last resort. Priority should be given to immediacy and effectiveness without unnecessary expenses and time-consuming procedures. Mediation, considered a more flexible process than court proceedings or arbitration, is a form of assisted dispute resolution. It does not constitute a binding process or include a decision by the mediator. Essentially, mediation is a type of assisted negotiation in which an independent third-party mediator intervenes in the negotiation process to help the parties resolve their disputes.

The use of alternative methods of civil dispute resolution in the Republic of Cyprus needs to be promptly promoted so that the judicial system can be decongested and remain free from the plethora of long-standing court cases that could already have been resolved out of court. As lawyers, we should encourage and promote mediation as an alternative form of resolution for cases that may involve disputes between employers and employees, civil and commercial disputes, disputes between landlords and tenants, or even matters relating to corporate law. Additionally, lawyers should prioritise informing parties, advising, and encouraging the use of other alternative dispute resolution methods. Promoting mediation will significantly contribute to the faster dispensation of justice by alleviating courts from unnecessary and time-consuming judicial procedures.

Furthermore, the arbitration process constitutes another alternative out-of-court dispute resolution method, whereby parties choose arbitration to resolve their disputes. Arbitration involves resolving a dispute by an impartial adjudicator whose decision the parties have agreed will be final and binding and may be enforced through the courts as a judgement. Arbitration is an alternative to litigation for resolving disputes. In the Republic of Cyprus, arbitration offers numerous benefits, including flexibility, confidentiality, speed, and effectiveness.

Regarding flexibility, arbitration allows parties to adapt the process to their needs and set appropriate schedules based on defined timelines. As for confidentiality, it is noteworthy that arbitration proceedings in Cyprus are guaranteed confidentiality, preserving the confidentiality of personal information, unlike court proceedings, which are open to the public.

Moreover, like mediation, arbitration, compared to the judicial process, is characterised as fast and effective due to its simplified procedural rules. This results in saving time and allowing faster resolution of disputes, as well as reducing expenses for the parties involved. The most significant benefit of arbitration is that the parties can choose their arbitrator, an expert in the subject matter of the dispute, such as lawyers, arbitrators, architects, or civil engineers. This ensures that the dispute will be resolved by specialised professionals with relevant knowledge and experience.

In conclusion, alternative dispute resolution in Cyprus requires further promotion. Just as universities in the United Kingdom offer courses in mediation and arbitration, universities in Cyprus should also include these courses in their curricula. Additionally, the Legal Council should consider incorporating these subjects into the framework of the Cyprus Bar Examination. To improve the functioning of the Cypriot judicial system and benefit society as a whole, it is essential to cultivate and strengthen alternative dispute resolution in the Republic of Cyprus.

Nicolas Theodorides, Senior Legal Advisor I, KPMG Law, Theodorides, Georgiou, Iacovou & CO LLC

Kyriacos Theodorides, Board Member, KPMG Law, Theodorides, Georgiou, Iacovou & CO LLC

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