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April 2, 2013

The injustice of the Greek justice system

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Written by: Politis

Politis asked EU law expert Anna Maria Konsta for her comments on a recently published review of the Greek justice system compared to other EU member states. Here are her remarks.

“Even if these data date back to 2010, they are still indicative of the inefficiency of the Greek judicial system. In Greece, it takes years to resolve even simple disputes, while it is common for important cases to linger in courts for years. The situation is dramatically worse in criminal cases, which can get postponed 4-5 times and even more so in administrative cases. Speeding the judicial process is a necessary condition for restoring competitiveness and growth. Correcting the injustices of the legal environment is also needed to promote investment, raise opportunities for entrepreneurs, lower inequality, and restore civic capital. (see http://greekeconomistsforreform.com/public-sector-productivity/the-injustice-of-the-justice-system/).

The Greek judicial system is also anachronistic. Greece holds the last position among EU countries in the use of IT by the judicial authorities. This contributes in further delays in the administration of justice. Moreover, Greece holds the ninth position in the EU for public spending on justice. This is most probably a result of the fact that the country has a large number of judges in comparison to other EU members such as France or Italy, and Greek judges earn much higher salaries than the average civil servant in Greece. Judicial officials benefited in the past by regulating their own salaries through a special court decision. Since September 2012, judges and prosecutors have staged rolling work stoppages to protest planned pay cuts. In December 2012, judges decided to end their protest, but over a million trials had already been postponed as a result of their mobilization. Nevertheless, Greek judges suffered pay cuts as all civil servants did. Now, some low-level judges make do with 1,200 euros a month. This is still over double the legal minimum salary, which for many Greeks has been reduced to under 600 euros after three years of austerity measures (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jJLhXuEvhqjHubBSrUZ2p9R8rLGQ?docId=CNG.b5ceaf73e2f066db473f59c60a8f739a.1e1).

The situation is even worse for Greek lawyers. The country has a disproportionately large number of professional lawyers. Greece ranks second only after Luxembourg in the number of lawyers in relation to its population among all EU countries. According to recent statistics, around one in three lawyers working in the capital — that is 7,097 of the 21,711 practicing law in Athens — did not appear in court at all in 2011, six in 10 did not attend a signing of a property transfer (one of the most common legal transactions) while more than 80 percent witnessed the signing of less than two property transfers (http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/
_w_articles_wsite1_1_22/06/2012_448565).”






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