Cyprus Legal System
Cyprus legal system is based on common law and equity jurisdiction and its justice system is based on the adversarial model. After Cyprus independence in 1960 most of the English law was preserved.
The laws that are applicable today are:
- The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus
- The laws retained in force by virtue of Article 188 of the Constitution
- The principles of Common Law and Equity
- The Laws enacted by the House of Representatives
Distribution of powers:
1.1 The Republic of Cyprus
The Republic of Cyprus has a presidential system of government. The president is elected for five years directly by the people in a secret ballot with universal suffrage.
1.2 Executive power
Executive power is exercised by a cabinet of 11 members which is appointed by the president. In the case of the temporary absence of the president of the Republic, his functions are performed by the president of the House of Representatives.
1.3 Legislative power
Legislative power is exercised by the House of Representatives. The deputies are elected for five years by universal suffrage via a simple proportional representation system. The House has 80 deputies, of whom 56 (70%) are elected by the Greek Community and 24 (30%) by the Turkish Community. Because of the events which ensued after 1963 and of the Turkish invasion of 1974 the seats corresponding to the Greek-Cypriot community remain vacant.
1.4 Supreme Court of the Republic
The administration of justice is exercised by the Supreme Court of the Republic, the assize courts and the district courts.
The Central Bank of Cyprus is responsible for shaping and implementing the monetary and credit policies of the state. The Central Bank also manages the Republic’s currency reserves, supervises the banks and acts as the government’s banker and financial representative.
Under the constitution, the president of the Republic appoints a number of independent officers of state, such as the Attorney-General (who is the Republic’s legal adviser), the Auditor-General, the director of the Central Bank and the Commissioner for Administration.
1.5 Local government level
Power at local government level is exercised by municipal and community councils and groupings of communities. There are 33 municipalities, of which nine are in the occupied area, and 483 community councils and groupings of communities, of which 131 are in the occupied area. The municipal councils provide services and have administrative powers in the cities and in two or three large rural areas in which municipalities have been established, and the community councils manage local government affairs in the villages. The councils are independent bodies, and their members are elected by universal suffrage every five years.
1.6 Other General Information
- As a result of the military invasion and occupation of 36,2% of Cyprus in 1974, the lawful government of the Republic of Cyprus can not exercise control over the northern part of the country. Under the treaty of accession to the European Union, the implementation of the Community acquis in that zone is suspended pending a settlement of the political problem.
- The official languages of Cyprus are Greek and Turkish. The majority of people speak at least one other language, mostly English.
- The Republic is obliged to provide representation by a lawyer where a plaintiff or defendant in a court case is unable to afford representation in court, and an application for the appointment of a representative is filed on a legal-aid basis (this happens most frequently in criminal cases).