The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

Updated: Civil Court turns down application to stop judiciary appointments

Wednesday, 22 May 2019, 10:17 Last update: about 2 years ago

The First Hall of the Civil Court has turned down an application signed by former Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil and PN MP Jason Azzopardi to stop judiciary appointments until a court case related to the appointments system is decided.

The two lawyers signed the application on behalf of NGO Repubblika.

The same court also turned down a request for the matter to be referred to the European Court, the government said in a statement.


The government welcomed the decision saying that the attempt to paralyze the judicial system has been rejected.

The government saud it will continue to strengthen the system which has already been reformed. Members of the judiciary are now appointed after being scrutinised by a technical board made up of the Chief Justice, the Auditor General, the Ombudsman, the Attorney General and the president of the Chamber of Advocates.

This is a system that Busuttil and Azzopardi had agreed with, the government said, and was approved by a two-thirds parliamentary majority.


In a statement, Repubblika said the First Hall of the Civil Court presided by Judge Mark Chetcuti, today rejected the government’s claim that Repubblika has no legal standing in arguing that the government should not be appointing judges and magistrates without reforming the judicial appointments system.

The Court found that Repubblika was eligible to make this claim under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union that was one of three legal bases Repubblika cited to claim its right to make this complaint.

The Court however rejected the other two legal bases quoted by Repubblika – Malta’s Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights – since Repubblika failed to show it was a “victim” in the sense required by these laws to allow them to file a case in Court, the NGO said.

Having rejected the government’s claim that Repubblika had no legal standing on the basis of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the case will now proceed at a hearing next week where Repubblika is expected to present evidence to back its claim that the method of appointment of judges and magistrates in Malta is in breach of the EU Treaty.

In a separate decree, Judge Mark Chetcuti decided to postpone his decision on whether to refer Repubblika’s complaint to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. In his decision he said he would wait for a decision by the European Court expected in the case the European Commission filed against Poland on interventions by the government of that country on the independence of its judiciary.

Judge Mark Chetcuti said he expects the Luxembourg decision on the Poland case to provide ‘redeeming guidance’ for his decision on Repubblika’s request, the NGO said.

Repubblika’s request for an interim measure to block the implementation of the government’s appointment of six new members of the judiciary was rejected because interim measures are not allowed under proceedings grounded on the EU Charter but on the European Convention of Human Rights and the Constitution. Since Repubblika’s legal standing on the basis of the latter two has been rejected, interim measures cannot be ordered.





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