PRESS RELEASE Chamber of Advocates May 14, 2020

The Chamber of Advocates refers to the letter setting out the response of the Government of Malta to the recommendations of the Venice Commission in its opinion of the 17th December 2018.

The Chamber expresses its satisfaction at the proposals made by the Government of Malta in that letter, particularly those relating to judicial appointments, which have taken on board almost all the recommendations made by the Chamber in its consultation process with the Minister for Justice.  Indeed, in one of the fundamental areas of the proposals made by the Government of Malta in judicial appointments, the removal of any political intervention, is a welcomed development that augurs well for the commitment towards creating a system of appointments devoid of political connotations.  That the new system of judicial appointments, with the exception of the appointment of the Chief Justice, will have no political motivation or undertone, and that the recommendations of the Judicial Appointments Committee will be made directly to the President of the Republic who will then select, on the basis of the recommendations made by the JAC, is an encouraging move, which finally removes any say of the political class in judicial appointments.  The only point where the Chamber’s recommendations were not implemented relates to the appointment of the Chief Justice where the Chamber had expressed its preferred view that such appointment should be made from among senior judges, thus eliminating the possibility that persons outside the judiciary could be appointed directly as chief justices, and where the appointment would be made by members of the judiciary themselves, without the intervention of any political power.

These proposals are a significant and positive step in addressing the Venice Commission opinion of December 2018, particularly with respect to judicial appointments.  There are, of course, still issues that need to be addressed and which may not have been raised by the Venice Commission in its 2018 opinion, but which remain very relevant for the overall checks and balances and the current system of judicial appointments.  We are pleased that the Chamber has been at the forefront of these reforms and that the continued co-operation with the Ministry of Justice has been able to provide a robust conceptual framework on which amendments to the Constitution and other legislation will now need to be implemented.  We look forward to further co-operation and consultation and to be able to contribute also to the detail of the amendments to the laws that will implement this conceptual framework.