The Legal Profession In Cyprus


  • Dr. Christos Clerides, LL.B (Brunel), LL.M (UCL) Ph.D (King’s College), Associate Professor of Law
    Founding Partner at Phoebus Christos Clerides & Associates LLC

Is the Profession divided into Barristers and Solicitors like in England?

In Cyprus despite the prevailing tradition of English Law and practice the Advocates profession is fused. The basic law regulating the profession, is the Advocates Law Cap 2 adopted during the colonial era and amended on numerous occasions since independence in 1960 by the Republic’s House of Representatives. The 1960 Constitution itself makes provision relating to advocates and their role. Under Article 30.3 (c) of the Constitution every person has the right to have a lawyer of his own choice and to have free legal assistance as provided by law. Under Article 11.4 every person arrested shall be informed the reasons for his arrest and shall be allowed to have the services of a lawyer of his own choosing.

What is the position of the Cyprus Courts relating to the role of Advocates in Cyprus?

The Supreme Court of Cyprus and District Courts on many occasions explored the role and duties of advocates. In Papadopoulou v. Polykarpou (1968) CLR 352 the Supreme Court emphasized the need for an advocate to keep minutes of a judgment to give to his client to enable him file an Appeal. In special circumstances an advocate may be ordered to pay personally the costs of litigation if the handling of the case be considered inappropriate by the Court, A E Pantelides, Advocate v. Pafiti (1967 I CLR 281. An Advocate should not give evidence in a case he is handling. Erotocritou v. Soutsos (1965) ICR162, Ousmianis v. Nicolaou (1981) 2 JSC 314 (District Court), In Re Efthimiou (1987) ICLR329. He should also avoid swearing affidavits in interlocutory applications but only in cases where it is absolutely essential for him do so. See Ahapitta v. Roc-Chik Ltd (1968) ICLR 1, Ioannides v. Sparsi (1979) 2JSC486, Άντρη Θεμιστοκλέους (1999) 1 Α.Α.Α.Δ. 40, Hull Blyth Araouzos Ltd (2004) ΙΓ Α.Α.Δ. 2042, Μιχαήλ v. Σκορδή (2003 ΙΒ Α.Α.Δ.1108.

In Μαυρίδης v. Αβρααμίδης (1981) 1JSC 93 (District Court) it was decided that an advocate binds his client in entering into a judgment by consent and it is presumed by law that he has his client’s approval and consent see also In Re Charalambous (1985) 1CLR 766 and Μιχαηλίδης v. Μαυρόπουλος (2002) ΙΒ Α.Α.Δ. 1143 and Σοφοκλέους v. Ταβελούδη (2002) 1 Α.Α.Α.Δ. 92. It has also been decided that communication between advocate and client is privileged, see Evaggelou and another v. Ambizas and another (1982) I CLR41.

What is the role of an Advocate in Cyprus?

Advocates are deemed officers of justice (see section 15 Advocates Law Cap 2) and are considered as exercising a public office. For the duties and role of Advocates see Κ. Τορναρίτης «Η Δικηγορική Δεοντολογία εν Κύπρω 1977 και David Pannick, Advocates, 1992. It is generally accepted that the advocate acts on behalf of his client irrespective of the merits of his client case. He is the “ambassador” of his client’s case to the best of his ability. His duty is to argue his client’s case. The successful advocate is a convincing, argumentative and inquisitive advocate. He is not there to pass moral judgment on his client’s case or express his personal opinion in non legal matters.

How did the Profession develop over the years?

The history of Advocates Law Cap 2 in Cyprus has its roots in the Cyprus Courts of Justice order 1882. In accordance with sections 176-183 the Chief Justice had power to approve admit and enroll to practice as advocates barristers or advocates in Great Britain or Ireland or solicitors or persons duly authorized to exercise such profession in the Ottoman Courts or the Courts of any foreign country. Details of the procedure were specified and in addition it was clarified that the Chief Justice had power to admit as advocates persons who served five years under the above authorized classes of persons duly admitted as is were in the Cyprus Bar. In Section 181 it was specified that advocates were entitled to sue and recover their costs. Every advocate was deemed under Section 182 to be an Officer of the Supreme Court. Powers of suspension were given to the Supreme Court, the District Courts and the Assize Courts. In 1894 advocates law 12/1984 was enacted establishing for the first time a Legal Board. The law provided that the Legal Board included the Chief Justice Judges and Queen’s Advocate and Advocates appointed by the High Commissioner. The Legal Board was responsible for the enrolment of advocates who had a diploma of any University or Law School of Great Britain or Ireland, France, Italy, Greece, Malta, Constantinople, Russia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the United States of America, Sweden or Norway, Belgium, Holland or Denmark. In order to further safeguard the profession Section 10 of the Law provided for a fine not exceeding 10 pounds for a person practicing as an Advocate without being enrolled. In 1933 the Advocates Law Cap 3 was enacted. It was intended to consolidate and amend the Law. Under the new Law admission of Advocates reverted to the Jurisdiction of the Chief Justice and the qualifications included Barristers­at-Law Advocates in Scotland and members of the Bar of Ireland or solicitors in England, Northern Ireland or as Law Agents in Scotland. The profession was confined in this way to professionals from England, Ireland and Scotland. The law did not affect advocates already enrolled under the previous legislation. This move obviously reflected the desire of the colonial power to exclude professionals from other countries especially Greece. The Supreme Court retained jurisdiction over discipline of advocates who were made officers of the Supreme Court and therefore owed their allegiance to the Court. The fine for practicing without the license was increased to 50 pounds and the Governor was authorized to make rules of Court with respect to the implementation of the Law. The new Advocates Law Cap 2 was enacted in 1955 and was again intended to consolidate and amend previous legislation and regulations. Provision was made for a provident pension fund. Matters relating to enrollment remained within the jurisdiction of the Chief Justice. A Disciplinary Council including the Attorney General and more detailed provision for the commission and trial of disciplinary offenses was made. Provision was also made for the local Councils and committees and for the Cyprus Bar Council. Cap 2 remains in force after independence by virtue of Article 188 of the Constitution.

What are main provisions of the Advocates Law and Qualifications to Join the Cyprus Bar

The Advocates Law includes 34 Sections and 3 Schedules. Part II provides for admissions and registration. This is regulated by the Legal Council which is composed of the Attorney General as its President, The President, Vice President and Secretary of the Cyprus Bar Association and from 3 Advocates chosen from the Bar Council from a list proposed by the Attorney General. The list must contain advocates who qualify for appointment to the Supreme Court and their term of office is for 3 years. The Legal Council decides on admission or registration and carries out the relevant examination. Decisions of the Legal Council may be reviewed by Civil Action before the District Court. The qualifications for registration are:

  • The candidate must be 21 year of age at least
  • Must be of good character
  • A Citizen of the Republic of an EU Member or the spouse of the child of a citizen of the Republic or any other EU Member
  • Has his habitual residence in Cyprus
  • Is the holder of a Degree or Law Diploma of a Greek or Turkish University, of United Kingdom University or is a barrister or is the holder of such a degree or diploma awarded from any other university or institution as the Legal Council may from time to time publish in the Official Gazette and
  • Has done a pupillage practice of no less than 12 months in the Law Chambers of an Advocate of at least 5 years standing
  • He has passed the examinations set by the Legal Counci.

A person who receives a certificate from the Legal Council entitling him to be registered as an advocate may under Section 6 of the law upon the payment of a fee be entered on the register kept by the Chief Registrar known as the “Advocates Register”. Under Article 6 A there is an additional register of practicing advocates kept with the Council of the Cyprus Bar Council known as the “Register of Practicing Advocates”. Such a person is granted an annual license upon payment of a fee. It is to be noted that under Section 2 of the Law for purposes of the law practicing law includes all types of practice defined therein such as appearing before the Courts, drafting pleadings, articles of association, registration of trademarks, ships and the rendering of opinions on any legal matter. In the past merely rendering opinions on legal matters was not considered as “practice” in the eye of the law and this enabled retired advocates basically to practice law in this field without being considered as practitioners and therefore forfeit their pensions rights or be guilty of the offence of practicing law without the necessary license.

Is it possible to set up an Advocates limited liability Company?

Under a new Section 6 Γ introduced in 2007 the Legal Council may approve the formation of a limited liability company of advocates to provide legal services as an “advocate” on certain conditions, mainly that it is composed by registered licensed legal practitioners. Every such company is registered with the Cyprus Bar Council where a Special Register known as “Advocates Company Register” is kept. The Chief Registrar is kept informed of both registers. The company bears the name of LLC i.e. Lawyers Limited Company.

Can an Advocate be found liable for negligence or for breach of Statutory duty?

Under a new Section 6 it is obligatory for an advocate to maintain professional indemnity insurance as from the 1/1/2010. Under Section 11 Part 3 of the Law no one is allowed to practice advocacy unless he is a registered advocate in possession of an annual license. In a recent case the Supreme Court had the chance to remind us that an advocate may be liable for negligence and breach of duty towards his clients and responsible to compensate.

Any person who practices law without being registered or in possession of a license is guilty of a criminal offense and furthermore he is barred from claiming his fee or is duty bound to return such a fee.

What is the position of foreigners who want to practice law in Cyprus

The new Part III A was introduced in the year 2002 and concerns services of lawyers from other Member States of the European Union. They are allowed to render a service in the Republic subject to the same conditions and obligations provided for local advocates except the requirement as to residence. A certain procedure has to be followed. A practical problem of course arises in such cases and this relates to the requirement to use Greek language before the Cyprus Judicial Authorities.

Part III B also introduced in 2002 provides for the permanent practice of the legal profession in Cyprus by lawyers of other Member States of the European Union. The conditions are let down in Section 11 A. Under Section 14 O after 3 years of practice such a lawyer is entitled to be registered as a practicing advocate in Cyprus in the same manner as other advocates. Normally this is done after an oral exam or interview by the Legal Council.

Other non-EU lawyers have to comply with the formalities applicable to all Cypriots.

How easy is it to enroll as an Advocate?

As it can be seen from the above provisions the profession is strictly regulated by law and controlled by the Legal Council which consists of the Attorney General and Senior Long Standing Advocates. A number of them are elected. The Legal Council has recognized a large number of degrees and diplomas from various countries other than Greece, Turkey and the UK. Inevitably it will recognize all degrees and diplomas from all Cyprus Universities which are fresh in this field provided the standard and quality of education is comparable to that of approved University degrees and diplomas. The examination set by the Legal Council has become more difficult nowadays and preparation and study to pass the exams may take a full one year. It is usually carried out in parallel with the one year pupilage during which the candidate is expected to appear in Court give opinions draft pleadings etc.

Assistance is offered through lectures given by judges and Senior advocates usually in the afternoons. The advantage of law graduates from a Cyprus Law Faculty would be that they will not have difficulty in passing these exams as during their course they cover all the subjects for which an examination is given for purposes of becoming registered advocates. The majority of registered advocates in Cyprus are graduates of Greek Universities with more recently an increasing number of graduates from UK Universities. A large number of university graduates obtain post graduate degrees or diplomas and or become qualified Barristers at law or solicitors in England. The English language is widely used although Greek is essential for practice in Cyprus as at least since 1989 the use of the Greek language is compulsory in all Courts.

What are the main disciplinary rules?

An Advocate is an officer of justice subject to disciplinary proceedings. A Disciplinary

Council is set up for the purpose. It is composed of the Attorney Council as its President, the President of the Cyprus Bar Association and 5 elected advocates. It sits with its President and two members for hearing. If the A-G does not preside the President of the Cyprus Bar Association shall preside. The ultimate penalty is the striking off the “Register of Advocates”. Fines and suspension as well as reprimands are options. There is a right of appeal to the Supreme Court exercised within two months.

The Cyprus Bar Council adopted the latest Rules of Etiquette by ΚΔΠ 237/2002. In summary an Advocate serves justice and truth. He defends his client’s rights and has duties towards the Courts, the client, the public to his colleagues, and the Local Bar Associations. He has to respect the professional privilege of his client, not to tout for business, not to be actively involved in other business, enterprise or trade and should advertise under a strict code and regulations. He cannot for example advertise that he is a specialist in a certain field or advertise in newspapers or magazines, radio or TV. It is disciplinary offense not to charge the minimum fees specified in the Regulations. He has to be polite in Court but not servile. He must lead a decent live and avoid publicity and excesses in his lifestyle.

Last modified on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 15:38


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Mrs Phoebe Clerides, LLB, LLM, Advocate



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