I write to express my concerns on the apparent lack of commitment for the implementation of judicial verdicts in Greek courts by the legislative and executive powers.
I would like to think that I have been a friend of Greece since my formative school years, and therefore I have enjoyed being able to follow the recent ups and downs of Greek politics through the English edition of Kathimerini. It is by regularly reading this publication that I have been able to widen my education on the essentials of commercial life in Greece. One of the apparent offenses against these essentials has been the alleged rifeness of corruption in politics and public life which your paper has reported almost on a daily basis.
It is well known that corruption in public places breeds and encourages corruption in society and commercial life generally. Our leaders are therefore required to, and should by nature set examples, especially for the young and for society at large. This is one very good reason why your judicial system must be strong and effective, it must protect honest justice and must staunchly defend the rights of the weaker man. Greek judges can only be applauded for upholding these precepts in spite of heavy odds such as the multiplicity and complexity of laws.
When ever I consider matters of law, I like to think of the Age of Enlightenment that took hold in Europe in the 18th century and in particular Montesquieu, and his interpretation of the “Spirit of Laws,” which included the separation of powers. Echoed in many ways by the Magna Carta in the UK. One of his clearest statements on the separation of powers was made in 1748, and says:
“When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty – there is no liberty if the powers of judging is not separated from the legislative and executive there would be an end to everything, if the same man or the same body were to exercise those three powers.”
According to a strict interpretation of the separation of powers, none of the three branches may exercise the power of the other, nor should any person be a member of any two of the branches. Instead, the independent action of the separate institutions should create a system of checks and balances between them. But, once it has been decided upon in the courts, it should be acted upon by the legislator.
After working in England for 35 years, a wonderful industrious and creative Greek friend of mine returned to his home country with specific plans to invest and support the Greek economy and to help build a future for the young men and women of Greece. He bought real estate and he started an organic farm. Ten years later he finds himself in the disappointing position of having to address the Greek courts for wrongful deeds which would be impossible to commit in England, where he spent the majority of his commercial working life.
It seems that massive delays and bureaucratic hurdles of Greek courts are well known, and even where enforceable decisions have been made they take many years to enact. My Greek friend keeps a careful diary of events and has made presentations – not on his own unfortunate experiences, as one would expect – but of the major inefficiency, failures, corruptions, blatant lies, misrepresentations, delays, unreasonable burdens and damages which allegedly blight the general commercial activity of the country. They have also cost an honest man, and willing investor, the loss of more than one or two good nights’ sleep.
My friend's documented presentations have been made in company meetings, diplomatic venues, EU gatherings et al. Unfortunately these experiences have only been a strong and realistic antidote to his, and his wife’s, well-meaning urge to invest in a beautiful country which they clearly love, but which obviously is currently seen by them as unable to guarantee due legal process, social order, company rights and financial rectitude. Investments may be inspired by the love of Greece, but have to be adequately secured by company rights, financial rectitude and due legal process.
Such essential processes which protect Justice and moral values should not fall into the hands of elected politicians who can come and go, but rather into the hands of judges empowered to deal with them, and of truly independent impersonal institutions, that uphold universal humane values for the long term.
Thank you for the hospitality to voice my thoughts.
Senior partner of a major London FTSE100 company