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Our View: 'Free courts' idea a flight of fancy.

THE LARNACA-based Citizen's Rights Bureau of the little-heard-of political party LASOK, which is running in the elections on a pro-citizens platform, has come up with a proposal to create free 'courts' or tribunals.

These courts would give low-income members of the public the chance to appeal decisions against them by municipalities, village councils, the welfare office, social insurance office and other official services, the party argues.

It points out how wrong it is for poor and underprivileged members of the public to have no access to justice, and relates an incidence where a disabled person would have had to pay e1/43,000 in legal fees to appeal a decision to cut his e1/4200-a-month benefits at the Supreme Court.

Cyprus certainly needs something along these lines given the number of cases filed to the official Ombudswoman's office every year, which shows that there are plenty such cases out there needing to be resolved.

However, despite the fact that the LASOK proposal sounds appealing, the party needs to either come down from the clouds and present us with some realistic reasons why we should vote for their members, or stop with the populist election sound bites and find a practical cause that they'll actually be able to get off the ground.

No such system as 'free justice' can be set up because, firstly, it would need to be managed and overseen in an official capacity.

Secondly, who do they think would pay for such a system?

Thirdly, the idea is far too utopian for a country that's barely European yet.

And lastly, as long as parliament is run by lawyers, the majority of them will never support any proposal that will take an iota of cash from their pockets.

Some of LASOK's own lawyers have until now reportedly been doing a good job in voluntarily helping members of the public to pursue their rights through the existing courts.

So instead of talking about special tribunals, perhaps LASOK could think instead about setting up an official network of lawyers all around the island who are willing to take on free cases for the underprivileged. That would be a worthy cause.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2011

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Apr 21, 2011
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