On Law, Legal Elites and the Legal Profession in a (Biggish) Small State: Cyprus

Petra Butler & Caroline Morrris (eds.), SMALL STATES IN A LEGAL WORLD (Springer, 2017), 213-244 DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-39366-7_10

32 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2017 Last revised: 19 Dec 2022

See all articles by Nikitas Hatzimihail

Nikitas Hatzimihail

University of Cyprus, Department of Law; Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

Date Written: May 7, 2017


This essay is intended as a contribution to the scholarly discussion about small states’ governance, by using the place and function(s) of law and lawyers in Cyprus as a case study. Cyprus is an island in the Eastern Mediterranean, an EU Member State facing acute geo-political challenges since obtaining independence from the British Empire. It possesses a unique kind of a mixed legal system, where “core” private law, as well as criminal law and procedural law across the board follow the English common law, whereas public law (and certain private-law enclaves) is strongly oriented towards continental models.

The legal profession has been instrumental in promoting this mixity. On the one hand, the organization of the Bar and even the judiciary has deviated from the common-law stereotype. On the other hand, the legal profession — or at least parts of it — have been instrumental both in safeguarding the strong common-law elements of Cyprus law and in facilitating the transformation of what was once a “pure” common-law colonial jurisdiction into a hybrid legal system. The dynamics between the different groups constituting the legal profession — the allocation of power, the dividing lines between judges and advocates but also divisions on the basis of age or divisions rooted in their respective legal education.

The chapter consists of three parts. The first part provides an introduction to the institutions of Cyprus law, with an emphasis on the court system and the legal profession. The second part examines certain legal fields that have either remained closer to their common-law or Continental origins or have mutated. The third part examines the role and composition of the principal groups within the legal establishment — and their role in shaping and managing the post-colonial status quo.

Keywords: Cyprus, mixed jurisdictions, legal profession, post-colonial states, island states, small states, contract law, commercial law, civil procedure, family law, administrative law, legal transplants, legal irritants, colonial legal history

JEL Classification: K00, K12, K23, K41

Suggested Citation

Hatzimihail, Nikitas Emmanuel, On Law, Legal Elites and the Legal Profession in a (Biggish) Small State: Cyprus (May 7, 2017). Petra Butler & Caroline Morrris (eds.), SMALL STATES IN A LEGAL WORLD (Springer, 2017), 213-244 DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-39366-7_10, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2964434

Nikitas Emmanuel Hatzimihail (Contact Author)

University of Cyprus, Department of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 20537
Nicosia, 1678
+357 22892923 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://ucy.ac.cy/el/people/nhatzimi

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) ( email )

CP 132 Av FD Roosevelt 50
Brussels, Brussels 1050

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