Disciplinary law is the body of rules that regulates the disciplinary responsibility and disciplinary sentence of employees. The establishment of disciplinary responsibility for civil servants and teaching employees is exercisable in the public interest and aims at maintaining the internal order of the civil service and public education service.

The application of disciplinary law is an administrative exercise pertaining to administrative function. Hence, any decisions taken in the exercise of disciplinary jurisdiction and the imposition of disciplinary punishment constitute administrative acts subject to a recourse under Article 146 of the Constitution.

The rules governing administrative responsibility of employees can be found in various laws. With regards to civil servants, the disciplinary rules are contained in Part VII of the Civil Service Law of 1990, Law 1/90 as amended, while the disciplinary rules for teaching employees are contained in the seventh part of the Public Education Service Law of 1969, N. 10/69, as amended. For other employees, such as members of security forces and employees in public law corporations, the disciplinary rules are contained in their respective legislations. In essence, these rules are almost the same with the ones in the civil service and public education service, having minor differences, mainly in the procedure.

The Disciplinary Law Subsector handles the disciplinary cases sent by the competent authorities to the Attorney General of the Republic and concern cases either against civil servants by virtue of the Civil Service Law of 1990, or teaching employees by virtue of the Public Education Service Law of 1969. The administrative inquiry conducted on behalf of the administration is not regulated by the above laws and constitutes an inquiry that aims at establishing the facts and the persons involved in the event.

The procedure to be followed in handling disciplinary cases is summarised below.

When the competent authority receives a complaint or when it comes to its knowledge that a civil servant or teaching employee may have committed a disciplinary offence, the said authority appoints an investigating officer, who, depending on the nature and seriousness of the offence, is mandated to conduct either a summary inquiry or an inquiry that will lead the case before the Civil Service Commission or Educational Service Commission for trial.

The inquiry is completed as soon as possible and not later than 30 after the investigating officer received his/her mandate. The Supreme Court ruled that this time limit is indicative. In any event however, any delay must be justified (e.g. absence abroad, workload etc.) and is approved by the competent authority.

Following the mandate, the investigating officer informs the civil servant or teaching employee of the inquiry to be opened against them for the purposes of investigating whether they have committed a disciplinary offence.

When conducting an inquiry, the investigating officer receives a statement from the complainant and has the power to hear any witnesses or take any written statements from any person who might possibly have any information on the case. The person giving the statement signs his/her initials on each page and puts his/her signature at the end of the statement.

After all statements have been taken, the investigating officer sends a letter to the civil servant or teaching employee informing them of the case against them and sends them copies of the statements. The civil servant or teaching employee under investigation has the right to be heard.

A second letter is sent if the civil servant or teaching employee fails to reply, in which the investigating officer explains that in case the civil servant or teaching employee does not reply within a reasonable time, the investigating officer’s finding will be submitted without him/her being heard.

Following the completion of the inquiry, the investigating officer submits a report to the competent authority via the relevant departmental director. The report includes the investigating officer’s duly reasoned findings of the inquiry together with all the evidence and material collected.

The report together with the opinion of the competent authority is sent by the competent authority to the Attorney General of the Republic for the purposes of expressing a legal opinion vis-à-vis the report.

The Attorney General examines as soon as possible the case and advises/gives legal opinion to the competent authority as to whether the charge against the civil servant or teaching employee can be filed. In case a charge can be filed, counsels for the Republic (at the disciplinary law subsector) draft the indictment and send it to the competent authority. The competent authority signs the indictment and sends it to the respective Commission (Civil Service Commission or Educational Service Commission) before which the trial of the disciplinary case begins. The counsel for the Republic who studied the case represents the competent authority and/or the prosecution before the respective Commissions.

The disciplinarily prosecuted employee is summoned to the relevant Commission for hearing of the case. In case the employee does not appear before the Commission the hearing of the case proceeds in their absence.

The hearing of the case is conducted, as far as possible, in the same way as that of a criminal case that is tried summarily by the District Court. Minutes of the proceedings are kept.

The Commission has the power:

    (a) To call witnesses and demand their attendance as well as the attendance of the employee in the same way as that of a criminal case that is tried summarily.

    (b) to require the submission of any documents that are relevant to the charge.

    (c) to accept any evidence, documents or oral evidence, even if such evidence would not have been accepted in a civil or criminal procedure.

    (d) to reschedule the hearing of the case from time to time, provided that the hearing proceeds as soon as possible.

The Commission may find the civil servant or teaching employee guilty of all or some of the charges against him/her and impose the disciplinary sentence(s) appropriate in the circumstances. Before sentencing, the employee is given the opportunity to be heard as to any possible mitigating factors. The Commission may acquit the employee on all charges.

The decisions of the Commission are reasoned and signed by its President. Copy of the decision is sent to the competent authority and another copy to the employee free of charge.

The disciplinary sentences that can be imposed are:
    (a) Reprimand

    (b) Strict reprimand

    (c) Disciplinary transfer

    (d) Discontinuance of annual increase

    (e) Deferral of annual increase

    (f) Monetary fine not exceeding three months’ worth of income

    (g) Demotion to pay scale

    (h) Demotion to a lower position

    (i) Compulsory retirement

    (j) Dismissal

In addition to the above, the Disciplinary Law subsector handles legal opinions pertaining to disciplinary law, such as whether a criminal offence for which an employee has been found guilty involves lack of honesty or moral indecency, which will lead to the respective Commission imposing a sentence on the employee concerned.

Moreover, counsels of the subsector are appointed by the Attorney General as Presidents and/or Members in disciplinary boards or committees of the Police or of public law corporations.

The counsel in charge of the disciplinary law subsection is Ms. Lambrini Lambrou Ousta, Senior Counsel of the Republic.

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