Established in 1960, the Cyprus Bar Association is the professional body of lawyers which currently counts about 4.000 members subdivided into regional associations for each of the six districts in the country. Highlighting the Association’s aim to provide the best possible service and support to its members, President Doros Ioannides points out that the legal services area in Cyprus is the second biggest contributor to GDP after tourism.
European Times: What are the main responsibilities and goals of the Cyprus BAR Association?
Doros Ioannides: By law, the Association is tasked with regulating and controlling the legal sector in the country. We are responsible for registering new lawyers and handling the examination process they undertake in courses approved by the Council, which is also the one to approve the degree of the new entrant. At the same time, we have disciplinary control over legal firms and we have the right to penalize unlawful processes and even ban legal licenses. The Association reviews and approves new companies entering the local market, both Cypriot and foreign, and it is our task to make sure they follow anti-money laundering rules and regulations.
European Times: What are the main advantages which attract foreign investors to Cyprus?
Doros Ioannides: Cyprus is a service-based economy mostly due to its low and stable corporate tax, which attracts numerous foreign entities to operate or be based on the island. Our corporate tax rate remains constant and stable, unlike other competitor countries which keep changing theirs laws to adjust to the economic environment. This has kept the foreign companies in the local economy after the infamous bail-in of 2013; instead of seeing fewer, we have witnessed an increase in the number of new foreign companies registered.
European Times: How would you describe the status of the legal profession in the country, as well as the entire legal system in general?
Doros Ioannides: We are witnessing a surge in the registration of new lawyers mainly as a result of the establishment of law schools; this brings the already high competition in the profession to even higher levels. Currently steps are being made towards transforming the judiciary system into an e-justice, which will enable functioning of the entire legal system and framework electronically, thus simplifying and making things faster.
The future of the legal profession is bright both for practicing and corporate lawyers, as well as for legal consultants. Cypriot and foreigners alike trusts the legal system in the country, as we never had corruption scandals of judges. Furthermore, the high quality of judges and lawyers is complemented by our efforts towards establishing the e-justice system, which will make Cyprus one of the top countries on global level in terms of legal services.
Concerning EU’s plans to establish harmonised standards for company taxation in all member countries, we are working together with the government and other countries with low taxes towards maintaining low corporate tax rates, since this is the main strength of our economy for attracting foreign investors.