Malta has half the number of judicial members required

 –  More staff need to be employed to assist judges and magistrates   – 

“The volume of work for the Maltese judiciary continues to increase, and some of it is of a complex and delicate nature,” was in essence the message of the  Association of Judges and Magistrates when welcoming the Government’s plans to appoint for new judges. However, it added that more trained staff should be employed to assist the judiciary in its work so as to improve efficiency. It is pointless to increase the number of judges and magistrates unless trained and motivated staff is employed to assist them, the association insists.

A European Union statement had said that Malta has half the number of judicial members required for every 100,000 population, when compared to other European countries.

With the volume of work that there is, a large considerable chunk of the judiciary’s work is carried out in their offices and homes, where judges and magistrates spend hours studying cases and writing judgments. Contrary to what some sections of the media have reported, the great majority of judges and magistrates work every day, and on occasions hold sittings over the weekend. 

This problem has been a long time coming and, in spite of efforts, it has never been resolved. This work takes place far away from the public eye, and is not appreciated, the association said.

The law courts are lacking a long-term plan which would ensure that investment can be made in the courts’ administration, and in recruiting competent people to help the judiciary in their duties. The association said that delays in procedures were a result of archaic procedures, especially in the Criminal Court.

Some such long standing methodologies and procedures, including those recently introduced, are hindering the court’s operations. The judiciary cannot work more efficiently unless radical changes are carried out. 

Government is being urged to address these legal inefficiencies to speed up court procedures. It recognised efforts being made to modernise court operations, such as the use of video-conferencing and other electronic equipment, but more is needed to allow the courts to be in a better position to operate effectively.

The Government has to understand that citizens had the right to justice within a reasonable time, and urged that just as much investment was needed in sectors such as health, social services and education, it was also needed at the Law Courts, the association said. All these suggestions were made to the Justice Minister in a meeting held recently.

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