Courts are swamped by cases

The country’s administrative courts, which handle disputes with public administration authorities, have a total of 224,000 hearings pending due to a sharp rise in the number of cases over the past five years, judges and lawyers were told last Saturday at their annual general assembly. The number of outstanding cases at administrative courts rose from 142,000 in 1999 to 224,000 by the end of 2003 because «every legal suit or appeal needs at least two or three years from when it is submitted until it gets to court,» said the president of the Association of Administrative Court Judges, K. Petropoulos. He noted that Athens’s administrative court has seen its pending cases triple since 1999. Petropoulos is appealing for an increase in the number of judges and court clerks, the establishment of new administrative courts, and the creation of a national council for justice – comprising representatives of political parties and the presidents of high courts and bar associations – which would annually record delays and shortfalls in the dispensation of justice and seek solutions.