Established by Nasos Panayiotou in 1977, the firm of N.V. Panayiotou Legal has taken a very personal approach to the law over the last four decades, according to his son and partner, Vassilis: “We get to know our clients well,” he says, “as we believe trust is the key to successful cooperation. We never just look at the legal aspects, but always see the person behind the case and remind ourselves we’re working with individuals whose companies, livelihoods and, in some cases, freedom could be at stake.”
The firm is headquartered in Nicosia, the Mediterranean nation’s capital, and has a branch in Ayia Napa, a popular resort town on the island’s south-eastern tip. Its team currently comprises of experienced lawyers, qualified compliance officers, expert tax specialists, and highly proficient real-estate and immigration advisors.
While his father continues to defend select clients, since Vassilis joined the firm in 2013 their workload has progressively shifted from litigation to a growing share of transactional business, particularly in Ayia Napa, where the family also has interests in the hospitality sector.
“We made a conscious decision to remain a small to medium-sized firm,” Panayiotou insists, “because we don’t share the philosophy that success is measured by size. We don’t believe ‘one size fits all’ suits our clients either. We take a personalised approach, assign a member of our team to every client as a single point of contact to manage their case, including outsourced services, and are accessible.
“Our job is not just to promote our clients’ interests, but to keep them up to date and informed about every aspect of what we do for them,” Panayiotou continues. “As many of our clients are foreign, setting up and building a business in a new jurisdiction can often be a stressful procedure for them. We take the time to explain things, so they know they have a lawyer they can rely on. This has served us well, as most of our new clients derive from referrals.”
N.V. Panayiotou Legal has what Panayiotou calls a diverse client base, but the firm constantly strives to stay true to its core principles: “We look after criminal proceedings for individuals and, sometimes, companies, but also work with HNWIs, SMEs, and private and corporate clients from Cyprus and overseas,” he explains. “We try to work with people with whom we have common values; our goal is always long-lasting relationships.”
Growing up as the youngest of three – his elder brothers are involved in tourism and business ventures – and with a lawyer in the house who often took him to court and the office from a young age, Panayiotou admits his father “lured me into the profession.” After completing his LLB at Reading University in the UK, he did a Masters’ degree in Corporate and Commercial Law and trained as a barrister in London. He then returned home in 2012 and did the required year of training and his bar exams in another Cypriot law office before becoming his father’s partner.
It was during Cyprus’ first lockdown, when Panayiotou found himself with more time on his hands than usual, that he began looking for a way to forge new international connections he was keenly aware his firm needed. Before long, he found TEN, The European Network of Law Firms, and contacted Bas Jacobs (LINK: https://www.ten-law.net/profile/bas-jacobs/), the director in charge of the committee for sharing knowledge, who works at TEN Advocaten in the Netherlands , via LinkedIn.
After talking with Jacobs, Panayiotou met with the rest of the board of directors via Zoom, because of COVID-Coronavirus travel restrictions, and was then asked to make a presentation for the virtual Annual General Meeting this October, at which N.V. Panayiotou Legal was formally inducted into TEN as one of four new member firms.
“TEN is a passionate group of lawyers,” Panayiotou declares, “not anonymous, like some other associations. We’re hoping membership will create opportunities to better serve our clients who work on multi-jurisdictional projects. Recommending lawyers you don’t know can sometimes backfire, but TEN are good to go. It is a great source of insight into 22 other jurisdictions, to discuss ideas, exchange points of view and share knowledge.”
Although Greece is the most obvious foreign jurisdiction of interest, Panayiotou admits, he has also previously worked on cases with British and German law firms on behalf of Cypriot clients and expects both markets to continue to be important, Brexit notwithstanding. At the same time, he says that Eastern European nations such as Poland, Russia and Ukraine are also significant sources of incoming investment to Cyprus.
Panayiotou is based in Nicosia, but, he smiles, one of the many advantages of living in Cyprus is that nothing is that far away, so he often spends time in the summer at the beach in Ayia Napa, just 50 minutes’ drive. A big football fan, both as a player and spectator, he likes all kinds of sports and is also into music, going to concerts whenever possible.