The Malta Independent 17 November 2018, Saturday

New Chief Justice to be appointed by government ‘in consultation with the opposition’

Rebecca Iversen Saturday, 30 December 2017, 09:09 Last update: about 12 months ago

The new Chief Justice will be appointed by the government in consultation with the opposition, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici told The Malta Independent yesterday.

The incumbent, Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri, will be retiring on 26 April 2018. Another three judges will also be retiring in the coming year.

Bonnici said yesterday that the government wanted to find consensus with the Opposition on the judiciary's top spot.

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Asked yesterday whether the spot would be filled by the Judicial Appointments Committee or the government, Bonnici said both the Opposition and government had decided that the committee should not enter into play on the decision.

"The Judicial Appointments Committee is chaired by the Chief Justice. When we drafted the law we saw that the Chief Justice, as chair of this committee, would not be part of the process to find his successor."

The Bill to set up the committee was unanimously approved by Parliament in July 2016. The Bill led to the setting up of a committee - comprised of the Attorney General, the Chief Justice, the President of the Chamber of Advocates, the Ombudsman and the Auditor General - which makes recommendations to the government on new judicial appointments.

The Bill also proposed that, should a commission recommendation be rejected by government, and government proceeds to nominate someone else, the government would need to publicly explain their reasons for this decision.

Government retained the prerogative on the appointment of new Chief Justices.

"Both the government and the Opposition decided that the Judicial Appointments Committee should not come into play. We assured the Opposition that we would consult with them throughout the whole process." Bonnici emphasised that the government would not chose a successor on its own but would do so with the Opposition.

Speculation on who could replace Camilleri has been prevalent however Bonnici did confirm that he has a few judges in mind for the position and would be presenting his ideas for the role and reasons why to the Opposition soon.

"Of course I need to first speak to the Opposition before disclosing which names I believe would be good for the role."

Bonnici said he believed that the Opposition would be pleased with the names he would be putting forward.


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