The challenges faced by the legal profession in Cyprus amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The actions of legal professionals in Cyprus, including their rights and responsibilities, are governed by the Advocates Law Chapter 2, 1959. This Statute Law established the Cyprus Bar Association (CBA) and subsequently the six Local District Bar Associations which are the regulatory bodies of advocates in Cyprus who represent more than 4300 members as of today. Has the Covid-19 pandemic, imposed challenges or constraints on the administration of justice in Cyprus and the independent exercise of the legal profession? Although the number or advocates who are members of the CBA is more or less the same, therefore showing that lawyers in Cyprus were not forced to withdraw from the market, there are other figures which show how the pandemic has put complex constraints on the legal sector and consequently has affected the market for legal professionals and has reshaped the legal system at a high degree.

Areas of law that are expected to flourish over the next years and the challenges introduced with them.

Legal technology and the challenges for remote justice in Cyprus

It is important to stress that Covid-19 has not only brought crisis for specific sectors of law but will also allow certain parts of the sector to flourish. Some areas of law are expected to have significant development in the coming years. First and foremost, legal technology is expected to have rapid growth. This is because the use and development for digital legal solutions within litigation, and within most areas of law in general, is undoubtedly considered to be a more time-effective and cost-efficient manner of providing legal services in Cyprus and worldwide. The legal industry will be changing substantially. This is not 100% positive when it comes to the impact and challenges introduced for young professionals. Remote working is reshaping the Cyprus workplace with staff working from home without the need to attend the office, attorneys attending negotiations via online zoom meetings and converting conference rooms to e-tables with everyone in their 'comfort' zone. This means that young lawyers will never have the opportunity to experience the traditional law firm practices, which undoubtedly also carry significant value.

Moreover, the relatively new tendencies and suggestions of reverting towards remote justice have not been without their condemnation. Legal professionals have expressed their concerns about internet connection problems and other technical problems during e-hearings as Cyprus is significantly lacking in the availability of technology and technological experience when it comes to developing automated administration of justice. However, there is no doubt that a large proportion of this technological transition will have a positive impact on the development of the legal profession.

Mental health law

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought mental suffering and struggles to a vast proportion of the population worldwide. Mental anxiety and emotional distress were common signs to both old as well as younger individuals in Cyprus. The Mental Health Commission (MHC) is the regulatory body and the committee responsible for the supervision of both the protection of the rights of mentally ill individuals in Cyprus and also the correct implementation of the Cyprus Psychiatric Nursing Act of 1997.

It is highly possible that the legal profession in Cyprus will be extremely busy over the next year in advising mental health professionals and specifically the Mental Health Commission on how to implement their substantial duties. For example, it is their duty to evaluate, implement and develop both measures for prevention and support against mental health problems created as a result of the pandemic. Nevertheless, this will in no way be an easy procedure. Questions like how such preventive measures can operate by practising social distancing and what are the ethical as well as legal issues behind remote mental health related measures, need to be addressed.

Family law and late administration of justice

The impact on relationships has been one of the most obvious challenges that were brought upon people worldwide amid this pandemic. Divorces and domestic violence cases are very high nowadays and as these cases go up the Cyprus courts and lawyers will probably face significant delays in the administration of justice for such cases (without excluding possible delays in administration of justice for cases related to other areas of law). Additionally, delays will also be a consequence of increased requests for adjournments and extensions of time due to the fact that there are now more cases where change of circumstances or contact difficulties, as a result of the measures in place, occur. These factors, along with many others, have made the resolution of family law cases an even harder challenge for legal professionals on the island.

The challenges faced by the construction sector in Cyprus

It is without a doubt that property developers in Cyprus are forced to temporarily postpone or terminate construction activities due to everything going on including the reduced demand and the measures put in place over the last year by the Cyprus government. As a result, property developers face and will continue to face costly and long-running disputes. Lawyers are usually called to refer to legal principles that invoke 'force majeure' events, in order to avoid claims on the grounds of non-performance or delayed performance in accordance with the parties' contractual obligations. Of course, it is not an easy process to demonstrate lawful non-performance or delayed performance due to unexpected events. Therefore, every case has to be carefully examined according to its own individual facts.

The impact on clients who are construction businesses is and will be noticeable for the near future. Time will be crucial for the recovery of these corporations, and this of course carries accompanying challenges for their legal representatives that will seek to provide viable solutions to their clients and allow them to survive and eventually thrive in such a challenging environment.
Nevertheless, construction is just one example of the many sectors on our island that have been severely affected by the pandemic. Other severely impacted sectors include the tourism and hospitality as their survival fully depends on the free movement of both locals and tourists. As such, different and previously unknown legal and contractual complications are arising for clients residing in different industries throughout Cyprus. This is exactly why law firms and legal professionals are now faced with countless challenges that would otherwise be uncommon or unreal occurrences within the Cyprus market.

Finally, there are areas of law and occupational sectors within Cyprus where the challenges are yet to be revealed. The team of A.G. Paphitis & Co. LLC is here to support every current and prospective client for any business or personal constraints they may face. We are doing everything in our power to achieve hundred percent client satisfaction especially during these unprecedented times. We pride ourselves in staying up to date when it comes to changes in laws and regulations but also in ensuring that we can adapt to each and every situation in order to achieve the optimal outcome for our clients and the Cypriot community as a whole.

AGP Law Firm | A.G. Paphitis & Co. LLC

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.