On 5th of October 2021, the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional the bill passed by the Cyprus Parliament extending the moratorium on tenant evictions due to the intensifying social and economic consequences of the outbreak of the pandemic.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court pointed out that the Parliament did not have the right and power to amend the relevant legislation on evictions, since such decision interferes with the right to enter freely into any contract, enshrined in article 26 of the Constitution. Further, the Supreme Court ruled that the said bill violates the principle of separation of powers, as well as conflicts with the article 30 of the Constitution, that no person shall be denied access to the court assigned to him by or under the Constitution.
In its decision, the Supreme Court said that the automatic suspension of the procedure to issue decisions and orders for eviction at any stage, without hearing the other side and without a court decision as to whether such suspension is justified, constitutes interference with the courts’ authority and a violation of the separation of powers. Further, the Supreme Courts states, inter alia, that the right to access the court is not absolute and it could have limits, provided however that such limits do not restrict or diminish access in a manner or extent that destroys the core of the right.
In its concluding remarks, the Supreme Court explicitly emphasises that the bill, as it stands, imposes suspension of any procedure for recovery of possession under article 11 (1) of Law 23/1983, regardless of its stage, meaning that it is prohibiting the continuation of existing/ pending court proceedings, as well as the issuance of court decisions and/or orders for the recovery of possession. In this way, the legislative power assumes and exercises powers outside its sphere of competence, by the means that its controlling and interfering in judiciary’s independence, in violation of the principle of separation of powers.
It is worth noting that the Supreme Court’s ruling on this matter, is of no importance significance since the moratorium ended on 31st of December of 2020. However, it remains to be seen whether the court’s decision will serve as a precedent against similar actions by parliament in future.