The Malta Independent 5 December 2023, Tuesday
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Chamber of Advocates says PM contact with magistrate not permitted by code of ethics

Monday, 30 January 2023, 14:05 Last update: about 11 months ago

The Chamber of Advocates said Monday that any contact between the Prime Minister and a magistrate went against the code of ethics that members of the judiciary had to follow, unless permission was given by the Chief Justice.

The chamber was referring to what Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Sunday, that he had talked about sentencing policies with a magistrate.

In a statement, the chamber expressed its disappointment at the declaration made by PM Abela. The courts of law have no remit to pass any message to anyone, but only act through judgments they give out with independence and impartiality by applying the law.


The chamber said that generalisation about court procedures and sentencing, with a profound analysis of evidence brought before the courts, are “superficial evaluations”.

It is not the courts’ role to send any messages to society; it is up to politicians to work on laws to send such a message, with judges and magistrates then responsible of applying them in practice.

The chamber also referred to what the Prime Minister said about MPs who say one thing in court and do another when they are representing their political party. The chamber said that when a lawyer voluntarily takes on a political role then he or she must be ready to be criticised. But there should be a distinction between the profession of a lawyer and that of a politician.

As a lawyer, he or she must provide their clients with the best possible defence, whereas as a politician her or she are free to express their opinion that goes beyond what is required of his or her professional duties, and should not limit them from carrying out such duties.

Referring to Abela’s meeting with a magistrate, the chamber said that such meetings are not permitted by the code of ethics members of the judiciary unless they are specifically approved by the Chief Justice. This is a basic principle that should always be respected.

The chamber said that it took the opportunity to say that while it acknowledged that there is an effort for the courts to be provided with the necessary resources to work at a faster pace there is a need for an update of the “judicial eco-system” and the legal profession so as to make it more efficient.

It urged the holding of discussions to formulate a plan on the way forward on matters such as the laws regarding legal procedures, judicial and administrative recourses and the reform of the legal profession.


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