The Courts comprise the Resident Judges’ Court, staffed by a single judge who is resident in Cyprus and The Senior Judges’ Court, staffed by a panel of visiting judges from England and Wales. The Resident Judge’s Court deals with the majority of criminal cases and the less complex civil cases, In the Senior Judges’ Court there is a Presiding Senior Judge who presides and a number of Senior Judges. This Court deals with appeals from the Resident Judge’s Court , cases involving Human Rights issues and Judicial Reviews. Senior Judges may sometimes sit in the Resident Judges’ Court to hear the more serious criminal cases or complex civil cases involving claims of large amounts of money.
These Courts were set up following the Treaty of Establishment in 1960 by which the Republic of Cyprus gained independence.The Courts serve all the population living or working in , or transiting through the Sovereign Bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, which are those portions of the Island of Cyprus that were not included in the Republic of Cyprus at independence.
This includes all Citizens of the Republic and any others living and working in the Sovereign Base Areas, the ex patriate community, the military community and its families and dependents, and any tourists passing through.
The Courts do not deal with purely military offences which are the province of military courts, known as” Courts Martial”.
The Courts apply neither military law nor English law; they apply Sovereign Base Area law, which is closely aligned with, and in some cases identical to, the laws operating within the Republic of Cyprus
There is one Court House in Episkopi serving the Sovereign Base Area of Akrotiri and another in Dhekelia serving that Sovereign Base Area but there is no limitation to the jurisdiction of any of the two courts based on locality.
Each of the two Court Houses has a Registrar responsible for the day to day running of the Court, and a Bailiff responsible for the issue of, and service of, Summonses. There is a PA (Personal Assistant), who is also the Court stenographer (shorthand writer) for the judge and an usher (who is also the judge’s driver). These two staff are based at Episkopi but travel with the judge when he goes to Dhekelia. In addition, the Registrar at Episkopi is also the Senior Registrar controlling all the staff at either Court House. The Senior Registrar is also the Registrar of the Senior Judges’ Court, the Compensation Assessment Tribunal and the Industrial Disputes Tribunal.
The Resident Judge is based at Episkopi. He is an English judge seconded to the post from The Ministry of Justice in the United Kingdom . The Senior Judge deals with more serious cases and appeals, and travels out from the United Kingdom as and when required. He is assisted by a panel of other Senior Judges who sit with him in a Court of three judges for the more serious cases.
In addition there are some Associate and Acting judges to cover for the Resident Judge when he is off island. These are lawyers of appropriate qualification.
The Courts apply both Criminal and Civil law; the latter including a small amount of Family or Divorce law.
The Resident Judge is also ex officio Her Majesty’s Coroner for the Sovereign Base Areas dealing with all sudden or suspicious deaths occurring within the Sovereign Base Areas. He is assisted by one other medically qualified Coroner