Cyprus: Elias Neocleous Interview With "The Lawyer"

Last Updated: 25 June 2015
Article by Elias Neocleous

The 8 June issue of "The Lawyer" featured a wide-ranging interview with Elias Neocleous, vice-chairman of our firm and head of the corporate and commercial department, on Cyprus's recovery from the 2013 banking crisis and the prospects for the legal services sector in Cyprus. Appearing weekly, "The Lawyer" is a leading source of news, jobs and training for the legal profession in the United Kingdom. Here are some highlights from the interview.

Q: The economy has picked up in the first quarter of 2015. How has this translated into legal work?

Because our main focus is on cross-border work, the state of the local economy has a less direct impact on us than on firms that derive most of their activity from the domestic market and in the event the banking crisis of 2013 brought in a lot of new work for us, from local and international banks requiring advice on their dealings with local borrowers, to international investors looking to invest in distressed assets. We continue to be very busy with assignments such as these in 2015, and we are working on several other projects for investors considering direct inward investment projects. There is a general feeling of greater confidence, but this is tempered by caution regarding investment into Russia and into Ukraine.  It would therefore be premature to say that there has been a fundamental sea change and that the bad times for the legal profession are over.  Fortunately we recognised the risks of having too many of our eggs in one basket and we are busy with inward investment work in Cyprus and projects not only in Russia and Eastern Europe but also in other areas. However, firms that are over-dependent on Russian and Eastern European business are inevitably going to face problems.

Q: A couple of years ago all the talk was about the energy sector; what work has there been in this market and do you think the promises about its development will pay off?

When the first important gas find was made towards the end of 2011 we recognised that the economic benefits would take years to realise, not only because of the long lead times needed to construct the infrastructure projects required, but also because of the complications arising from the political situation with Turkey.  Our approach to the energy sector took these factors into account. Unlike some of our competitors, we did not seek to reinvent ourselves overnight as an energy firm – we recognised the difficulties of competing effectively in that very closed, specialist market. Instead we focused, and continue to focus, on offering clients in the energy sector our expertise in Cyprus corporate and tax law, working alongside their industry specialist advisers.   This approach has paid off for us, as we have had several substantial pieces of work in the sector. Looking forward, we expect more work in the sector and associated sectors. The holder of the concession has now declared the reserves to be commercially viable and while it is now generally accepted that an "oil boom" is no longer on the cards, particularly given the drop in energy prices over the last year or so, there is confidence that the gas discovery will provide significant revenues for Cyprus in the medium to long term. It may even act as a catalyst for reunification, with all the potential benefits that could bring.

Q: What has been the impact of the Russian sanctions on Cyprus? Do you see signs that Russia is growing closer to Cyprus again?

Russia and Cyprus share a long cultural and religious heritage and this will always continue, but Russian business people, like business people everywhere, are primarily motivated by financial and economic considerations. The de-offshoring law that the Russian government introduced as a reaction to worsening relations with the EU and the USA reduced the benefits to Russian investors of using Cyprus as a holding company jurisdiction, and firms that are unduly reliant on such business will inevitably see a reduction in activity. We believe that the quantity of work from Russia will decline, as marginal businesses leave Cyprus. On the other hand, the quality and complexity of the work that remains are likely to be higher than in the past. We made a deliberate decision to diversify geographically some years ago, and while Russian and Eastern European clients are still very important to us, we are not over-reliant on business from the region.

One side-effect that I hope will result from the reduction in demand for legal services is a "shake-down" in the profession and a general improvement in quality. For too long the seller's market for legal services in Cyprus meant that firms could survive, and indeed thrive, despite offering unacceptably low standards of quality and responsiveness. To succeed as a credible financial centre we need to offer consistently high quality.

Q: How has the legal market fared in the last year or so? What changes have you as a firm made to cope with the difficult economic environment, and what investments are you planning for the next year?

In the aftermath of the 2013 financial crisis many law firms, particularly those that were mainly dependent on the domestic market, were forced to take drastic action in order to survive, by closing offices, making redundancies and imposing pay cuts and freezes on promotions. Others followed them, not out of necessity but in order to boost short-term profitability. We did not do so. Our day to day operating capacity and profitability remain robust and it would not be fair to our staff, or good for client service. In fact, while we are cautious given the uncertainties facing the economy we view the current situation as an opportunity to recruit talented people who feel undervalued by their current employers. We are also continuing to invest in technology and training, so that we offer our clients the best possible service and maximum ease of communication. We have had to put our plans to open a representative office in China on hold, as the Chinese authorities are understandably cautious after the 2013 crisis, but we are constantly on the lookout for other opportunities.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Elias Neocleous
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.