What is changing in the Criminal Code? How will the work of justice accelerate? What is to be in force with the trademarks?

09 May 2019

What is changing in the Criminal Code? How will the work of justice accelerate? What is to be in force with the trademarks?

The most important changes brought about the new legislation in the Criminal Code of the country are cited by the founder and co-owner of the Rhetor Law Firm, Mr. Andreas Papamimikos, who also positively welcomes the upcoming reform of the Criminal Code.

In an interview at Mr. Papamimikos underlines that long delays in the administration of justice and law enforcement consist an important inhibiting factor in attracting investment and presents his proposal in order to speed up the work of the judiciary.

Lastly, he makes a special reference to the issue of Macedonian trademarks, explaining precisely the validity and inviting the Greek businessmen to proceed immediately to the registrations – copyrights in order to ensure the use of their trademark and the circulation of their products in Greece and the European Union.

What is your view of the great upcoming reform of the Criminal Law of our country?

Firstly, if I have to place myself in the first place entirely according to my point, I believe that the reform has a positive sign. The committee, which started its work under the late John Manoledakis, composed of established members of the legal world, make a considerable and time-consuming effort in order to bring our criminal law into line with the needs and the concerns of our time.

There are some provisions that have caused a lot of controversy and talking, but the worst of all is when we the issue concerns planning, we cannot judge something which has a final form that we will not be able to know until it is voted by the General Assembly of the Parliament.

What kind of changes do you consider most important?

Very briefly, I believe that it is moving towards the right direction: a) the abolition of Law 1608/1950 for the abusers of public money, since the punishment of a property crime with the same punishment that manslaughter with intention is punished on an international level is clearly disproportionate; b) the elimination of wrongdoing and the punishment of specific offenses only at the administrative level, as the reality showed that the criminalization of specific behaviors did not act as a deterrent; c) the abolition of the institution of the conversion of the penalty into money, which favors the economically well –off and the promotion of the institution of charitable work as a basic way of alternative punishment, which is expected to have better efficiency for the society if only the appropriate infrastructure is taken care of; d) the abolition of one-member Courts of Appeal, as they may have helped in speeding up the administration of justice; however, this can be achieved on the one hand by better “filtering” of the cases at the stage of pre-trial, and on the other hand allowing to one person only, even with the guarantee of the judicial officer to judge the freedom of another person, has many possibilities of error that even if it is eventually healed in the end, it will have stigmatized him/her for his/her whole life.

Your law firm supports businessmen and traders. What is the opinion you have concerning the investments in Greece and the possibility of attracting new investments?

Greece could have much higher growth rates if there was a somewhat “friendlier” environment to investors who wish to invest money in the Greek market. A major obstacle in attracting and implementing new investments is the slow administration of justice, even today. Anyone can file an appeal, which can freeze an investment for almost a decade. Anyone can also anonymously file a complaint, which must be filed directly according to Law. However, in practice, this is not generally the case and can also hinder investment until the criminal mechanism has come to a decision.

Do you believe that easy access to justice prevents it from being more quickly administered?

I would never imply that any of us should not be entitled to access to justice. Such an opinion opposes my beliefs. However, these complaints must be filtered quickly, carefully and fairly. Neither do I think that the judges are responsible for delaying the assignment of their work, as they are charged with much work with all the files and they are also under pressure to be efficient. This is not the point of justice. The judge must be able to devote himself/herself to his/her spiritual work undistracted. For this reason, it should be supported by a greater number of judicial officers, to be given more and modern technological means, in order to reduce judicial bureaucracy, to spend much more money from the state budget on justice, which is clearly underfunded in relation to the European average and to promote even more alternative ways of resolving disputes such as arbitration and mediation.

After the Prespes agreement, do you think there are risks for Greek businessmen who produce products by using the words Macedonia, Macedonian etc.?

The Prespes agreement has not affected the principle of time – priority in the field of trademark law. The neighboring country’s entrepreneurs cannot prevent the use of a trademark on Greek territory if they: a) do not sell their own product in the Greek market; b) Even if their similar product is sold in the Greek market, they have their right fortified only after the Greek beneficiary who uses the registered Greek and European trademark. As soon as the neighboring country presumably joins the EU, the entrepreneur in the other country will be as able as the Greek one to register his/her trademark across the EU including Greece, and hence his/her trademark will also be protected within his/ her country. Consequently, it may be prohibited to use any similar trademark – and hence the circulation of the product to which it corresponds – to Greece. That is why it is very important for Greek entrepreneurs to proceed immediately with the registration of their trademarks so that they can guarantee their rights in Greece and the EU in time and so that no one could ever forbid the use of their trademark and the circulation of their products in Greece and the EU.