Monthly Archives: March 2016

How To Access Court Records Paper And Electronic Files

download (7)Whether you are a law student or just interested in obtaining a court record to check some information, knowing how to access records is important. Access to these records are generally available to the public and are often considered as public records. That said, not all records may contain the information that one needs to see as the court may seal certain parts of the court proceedings especially if the case involves a juvenile.

Electronic Access – What is PACER?

As paper files becomes cumbersome, many government agencies are now switching to electronic database. The Public Access to Court Electronic Records or PACER is the US’ centralized electronic database that has court cases and docket information from different courts in the state such as the appellate, district and bankruptcy courts. Terminals are setup in the court clerk’s office and are available to the public. The information obtained inside the court office is free however; one would need to pay certain fee for printouts. If the records are from the Federal Records Center and one is interested to view the documents, a fee is also requested. Records from the Supreme Court are not available from PACER but are instead available directly from the Supreme Court’s website.

Paper Case Retrieval

Some cases might not be available online and have to be retrieved directly from the court clerk’s office manually. Most cases, especially before 1999, are available in paper format only and can be access from the court where the case was filed. To order or check the records, it is important to verify which courthouse the case is filed. Local courts have different sections, calling beforehand to verify would save you time as well as makes the request processing faster. Some court would require people requesting to write a written request to make the process speedy. It is best that one should specify the cases that they need and if there is a docket number available, to include this in the request form.

Are Sealed or Erased Records Accessible

Generally, sealed records are not available to the public especially those that have juveniles as parties to the case. That said certain exceptions apply. Some cases may be sealed and access is restricted however, some cases may partly be sealed and the ones not included are available to the public. Do note though that sealed cases maybe unsealed once the sealing order expires.

Court records or police records maybe erased in certain circumstances examples would be when an absolute pardon is given, another is when the act was decriminalized later on or if the defendant receives an acquittal or dismissal unless an appeal is taken.

Reporting Formalities for Ships Arriving and Departing From the Republic of Cyprus

download (8)The Department of Merchant Shipping has updated its guidelines to operators of ships calling at ports in the Republic of Cyprus concerning reporting procedures under EU Reporting Formalities Directive and the Reporting Formalities for Ships Arriving-Departing from Ports of the Republic Law of 2012 (148 (I)/2012).

All the necessary information shall be provided online via the SafeSeaNet platform. SafeSeaNet is a European platform for maritime data exchange between EU member states and maritime authorities. Precisely, it is an Internet solution based on the concept of a distributed database. SafeSeaNet has developed a Community ship traffic monitoring and information system following the Directive 2002/59/EC. This Directive applies to vessels of 300 gross tonnage and upwards.

The primary objective of SafeSeaNet is to assist the gathering, dissemination and harmonised exchange of maritime data. Moreover, it facilitates the communication between authorities at a local/ regional level and central authorities. Therefore, it contributes to preventing accidents at sea and maritime pollution.

Under Article 6 of the “Reporting Formalities Directive” (2010/65/EU) and the Section 6 of the Reporting Formalities for Ships Arriving-Departing from Ports of the Republic Law of 2012, information related to ships calls, must be provided through the SafeSeaNet online platform.

Precisely, ships arriving/departing from the Republic of Cyprus must provide the following notifications via SafeSeaNet platform:

  • Notification prior to entry into the ports of member-states, under section 6 of the Merchant Shipping Laws of 2004-2012;
  • Notification of dangerous or polluting goods carried on board, section 15 of the Merchant Shipping Laws of 2004-2012;
  • Notification of Waste and Residues under the Port Reception Facilities for Ship-generated Waste and Cargo Residues Regulations, 2003;
  • Notification of Security Information following the provisions of Article of 6 of Regulation (EC) No. 725/2004.
  • Notification 72 hours prior to arrival, the actual time of arrival and the actual time of departure (estimated), following the provisions of sections 12 and 25 of Merchant Shipping (Port State Control) Laws of 2011-2015.

The Circular 13/2016, issued by the Department of Merchant Shipping, underlines that the operator/master/agent of a ship must provide the Cyprus Ports Authorities a summary regarding waste/residues and security information, 24 hours prior to the expected time of arrival at the port or anchorage or immediately on departure from a foreign port, in case the duration of the voyage is less than 24 hours.

Notably, the Waste and Residues Notification must include the following details: last port delivered, last delivered day and delivery status. The Security Notification contains information on Security Level. For more details, please contact one of our lawyers.

What Sets Great Lawyers Apart From the Rest?

download (6)Abraham Lincoln once said that a lawyer “has a superior opportunity of being a good person. There will be business enough.” The requirements for obtaining the professional distinction have changed considerably since Lincoln’s time. While he was only required to obtain an Illinois court document vouching for his “moral character,” today’s attorneys typically undertake several years of rigorous study and must pass difficult exams to practice their skill professionally. However, Lincoln’s sentiment can serve as a grounding principle for legal professionals. Above all, lawyers must trust in the law’s ability to maintain and improve society and act as an agent for justice. That said, the modern attorney needs a very specific skill set that includes the following essential qualities.

Negotiation

The ability to negotiate is arguably the most coveted skill a litigator can possess. Crushing the competition may be the chosen approach of a business leader or athletic coach, but it’s unlikely to yield the best result in a legal dispute. A talented negotiator takes the expectations of all parties into account and positions him or herself creatively to achieve an outcome that everyone can live with.

Verbal Skills

It’s a given that studying law requires thousands of pages of reading and tons of writing, but the best lawyers are those with an exceptional command of all phases of verbal communication. Their reading comprehension must match their efficiency, meaning they can rapidly sift through a large volume of text and accurately find pertinent information. On the writing side of the equation, drafting briefs accurately and quickly requires advanced skills. Their ability to communicate with colleagues and clients clearly and concisely should not be undervalued either.

Presentation Ability

Lawyers may spend much of their time navigating briefs, documents, and correspondence behind the scenes, but truly effective ones are those who can steal the spotlight when the time comes. An attorney should be able to capture attention with both spontaneous performances and well-prepared presentations. Specifically in trial situations, facts might not speak loudly enough for themselves, and it is counsel’s job to illuminate important points through demonstration.

Logic and Analysis

Good counsel always maintains a personal distance from the situation at hand and relies on impartial judgment to find the best course of action. One cannot succeed in the legal profession without the ability to see past personal feelings and biases that can cloud logical thinking.

Passion

Though it may counter the previous statement, a passion for justice and a spirit of perseverance in the name of the client can set great lawyers apart from those just going through the motions. Practicing law is a demanding calling, and lacking an outstanding commitment to the profession can make for a mediocre attorney.

Anti-Piracy Law In Cyprus

download (9)Cyprus is one of the most important maritime locations in the world. Precisely, Cyprus is the third biggest maritime fleet in the EU and the tenth biggest fleet in the world. The ideal geographical location of Cyprus between Europe, Asia and Africa and the considerable tax incentives constitute the island a market leader in ship management activities. Shipping is one of the most important sectors of the Cyprus economy. Therefore, maritime security is an essential topic that needs to be addressed. That is to say, it is mandatory for ship-owners to protect their vessels when sailing to dangerous areas.

The Protection of Cyprus Flag Ships from Acts of Piracy and other Unlawful Acts Law (77(I) 2012) provides the necessary legal guidelines for Ship owners, Bareboat Charterers and Ship-managers concerning the measures they need to take when they sail to High-Risk Areas and how they can employ private armed security personnel. In addition, it provides a legal framework concerning the engagement of Private Ship Security Companies (PSSC). It should be mentioned that the Law 77(I)/2012 is applicable internationally.

Security and Protection of the Ships:

The master of the ship and the ship’s operator are obliged to implement the required measures, in accordance with the provisions of SOLAS chapter XI-2, the ISPS Code and Regulation (EC) No. 725/2004 in order to ensure and maintain the security of the vessel and prevent unlawful acts.

According to Section 5(2), the master of the ship, the ship’s personnel and the other individuals on board of the ship may, separately or together, act in order to prevent an unlawful act. In other words, the master of the ship, the ship’s personnel and the other persons on board of the ship, when the ship sails in high-risk areas, may, separately or jointly, use every means so that to prevent an unlawful act that may threaten the security of the ship, or their physical integrity or lives, or may lead to the kidnapping of persons on board the ship.

Duty to Inform the Competent Authority:

The master of the ship and the ship’s operator have the obligation to report immediately to the Competent Authority any unlawful act or attempt to commit an unlawful act and to provide detailed information in regards to that act. In Cyprus, the competent authority is the Department of Merchant Shipping. Furthermore, the operator has to inform and keep updated the relatives of hostages and those injured as a result of an unlawful act.