Elias Neocleous & Co LLC replaces Andreas Neocleous firm
Elias Neocleous & Co LLC has become the successor of the former Andreas Neocleous firm, and has arrived to provide high-quality legal services to Cyprus, in accordance to international and Cypriot standards, Simerini newspaper learned in an interview with the head of the new firm.
1. You have recently had to face an unprecedented situation. How have you dealt with it and why?
In order to put the recent events into context it is important to note that our predecessor firm, Andreas Neocleous & Co LLC had more than 50 years’ history in the legal services sector, over which time it rose to a position of leadership, being internationally acclaimed and consistently placed at the top of the Cyprus rankings by all the internationally recognised law firm rating agencies. Furthermore, it was one of the main protagonists in promoting Cyprus as an international business center and attracting foreign investment.
Andreas Neocleous & Co LLC indeed faced an unprecedented challenge in the history of Cyprus, arising from the well-known criminal case against the former Deputy Attorney General and others.
Following the startling verdict of the Assize Court, the inevitable consequence of which was the suspension of the operations of Andreas Neocleous & Co LLC, my colleagues and I decided to act immediately and to launch an entirely new law firm, namely Elias Neocleous & Co LLC, with the sole purpose of the ensuring the uninterrupted continuation of the provision of high quality services to our clients who remained by our side during this transitional period, and who are now clients of the new firm.
This transition was extremely successful and our clients were not affected by this change. The recipe for success in this case can be summarized in four words namely ethos, passion, persistence and patience, virtues that are deeply embedded within the culture of our large team of lawyers and other staff.
2. Today the new firm bears your name. Has your business plans changed?
Elias Neocleous & Co LLC has absorbed all of the human and other resources of Andreas Neocleous & Co LLC, which made that firm one of the top 100 law firms in Europe according to Legal Business magazine’s “Euro Elite 100”, and utilizes all these assets, resources and know-how to provide clients with the best possible advice.
Today, we draw from the heritage of Andreas Neocleous firm so we can build the law firm of the future.
The new platform implements the vision of the new generation of the partners and lawyers of the firm, namely to be one of the top law firms of Europe by creating value for our clients.
3. Do you think that there is “injustice” behind what your firm has gone through?
Both the Cypriot lawyers of Andreas Neocleous firm and the supporting team of the English lawyers are of the opinion that the judgment of the Assize Court is neither based on proper law nor on the actual facts of the case and that it is consequently fundamentally flawed.
In view of the fact that the Andreas Neocleous firm and others have filed an appeal against both the conviction and the sentence, and the case is pending, it would not be appropriate to comment further.
It is also important to note that it is Andreas Neocleous & Co that is handling the appeal and all other aspects and steps in the context of the case and as such these matters do not really concern the new firm per se.
Going forward my partners and I are focusing only on the future, as our main goal is to make the new firm not only capable of matching the achievements and accolades of our predecessor firm, but to surpass them.
4. How do you see the service sector evolving in Cyprus? Are there any prospects?
The service sector in Cyprus has evolved considerably in recent years. The next two to three years will be decisive for the future and the prospects of the sector, and of the economy as a whole.
The times of the so called “fat cows”, namely the times of relying on the mass establishment and use of “letterbox” companies not engaged in real activities and lacking any form of substance are long gone. In the new environment that we are now facing, only serious and proper businesses will be eligible to derive any tax and other benefits.
At the same time, the legal profession itself is facing pressures and challenges related to the rapid development of technology and the exponential growth of internet-based services to the extent that now we even see the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the field of legal services for the purpose of fast, high quality and cost-effective handling of cases.
Innovation is the only way forward. Our clients expect us to be aware of and use the cutting edge technologies that ensure, on the one hand, the professional delivery of a wide range of services (with cost reduction as a consequence) and, on the other, the protection of personal data, which is more important than ever in view of the increasingly insecure electronic environment, where we see daily reports of serious online attacks (hacking etc.), sensitive data interception and the like.
Like its predecessor, our firm has embraced the digital age and is committed to innovation and the implementation of modern technology systems and software tools in these areas including the use of data analytics, data mining and similar techniques.
5. Recently, we have reports that affect the Cypriot economy with reports of money laundering. Finally, is Cyprus a big "washing machine"?
In recent years, Cyprus has significantly updated its legal framework of anti-money laundering laws and regulations, which in any case is fully in line with all relevant European Directives.
Indeed, Cypriot banks and professionals are now even "accused" by their clients that they are applying stricter controls than those applied by countries that traditionally “accuse” Cyprus.
Of course, the state's efforts towards more transparency, unprejudiced compliance with the institutional framework, fairness and healthy competition must be lasting and visible in the international community.
Serious voices are already being heard about reforming and improving the justice system. This is a serious issue, which is beyond the scope of our current discussion.
6. What changes should be made to enable the country to achieve investment development steps?
The future of Cyprus is firmly embedded in the country’s continued prospects as a successful reputable international business center.
Real growth will come when Cyprus will be able to achieve sovereign ratings by international credit rating agencies that can be compared favorably with the corresponding ratings of other competing countries like Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Ireland and Singapore.
Consequently, the state reform efforts should vigorously continue throughout all public administration bodies.
7. What are your next goals?
In addition to what I have already stated with regard to the new firm, our two immediate goals are: first of all, to continue our efforts in significantly improving the quality of our services and secondly to focus our efforts on attracting further high-quality investments in Cyprus. The growth and professionalization of legal services is inextricably linked to the growth of our economy, which is something we should never forget.