Cham­ber of Ad­vo­cates pres­i­dent plans to say that Par­lia­ment did not go far enough with Ju­di­cial Ap­point­ments Com­mit­tee

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Kevin Schem­bri Or­land

Pres­i­dent of the Cham­ber of Ad­vo­cates George Hy­zler plans to praise govern­ment and the Op­po­si­tion in his open­ing of the foren­sic year speech to­day, on their abil­ity to come to­gether and es­tab­lish the Ju­di­cial Ap­point­ments Com­mit­tee; how­ever, he will also crit­i­cise the new Act, by say­ing that they did not go far enough.

The be­gin­ning of the foren­sic year al­lows for speeches by the Chief Jus­tice, Sil­vio Camil­leri as well as the Cham­ber of Ad­vo­cates Pres­i­dent, re­flect­ing on the past year, and air­ing their con­cerns and views on the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice. The event is nor­mally at­tended by the Pres­i­dent of Malta, the Min­is­ter for Jus­tice, the Shadow Min­is­ter for Jus­tice, as well as past and present mem­bers of the Ju­di­ciary. Speak­ing with The Malta

In­de­pen­dent, Dr Hy­zler said that the Cham­ber of Ad­vo­cates has al­ways sug­gested that the ex­ec­u­tive should dis­tance it­self as much as pos­si­ble when it comes to ju­di­cial ap­point­ments.

The com­mit­tee was in­tro­duced ear­lier this year, as part of Malta’s Con­sti­tu­tional Re­forms, and is com­posed of the Chief Jus­tice, the At­tor­ney Gen­eral, the Om­buds­man, the Au­di­tor Gen­eral and the Pres­i­dent of the Cham­ber of Ad­vo­cates.

The func­tions of the Com­mis­sion in­clude: to re­ceive and ex­am­ine ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est from per­sons in­ter­ested in being ap­pointed to the post of Chief Jus­tice, Judge or Mag­is­trate, other than from per­sons al­ready oc­cu­py­ing an of­fice es­tab­lished by this Con­sti­tu­tion, to con­duct in­ter­views or as­sess­ments of can­di­dates for the offices where it con­sid­ers that these are nec­es­sary, to ad­vise the Prime Min­is­ter through the min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for jus­tice on its eval­u­a­tion of can­di­dates for the above-men­tioned offices.

When re­quested by the Prime Min­is­ter, they are also to ad­vise on per­sons who al­ready hold an of­fice es­tab­lished by this Con­sti­tu­tion with re­gard to their el­i­gi­bil­ity and merit to be ap­pointed to any of the above­men­tioned offices.

Should govern­ment re­ject a rec­om­men­da­tion by the com­mis­sion and pro­ceed with its own nom­i­na­tion, it would need to pub­licly ex­plain its rea­sons.

Ear­lier this year prior to the in­tro­duc­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tional changes, two govern­ment nom­i­na­tions for the post of mag­is­trate came un­der heavy crit­i­cism.

Govern­ment had said that it had had ap­proved Caro­line Far­ru­gia Frendo, who is Speaker Anglu Far­ru­gia’s daugh­ter, and In­grid Zam­mit Young to join the benches of the ju­di­ciary.

In­grid Zam­mit Young had with­drawn her nom­i­na­tion af­ter the Com­mis­sion for the Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Jus­tice found that there could be Con­sti­tu­tional Im­ped­i­ments to her ap­point­ment.

Mag­is­trate Caro­line Far­ru­gia Frendo was ap­pointed, how­ever her nom­i­na­tion was con­tro­ver­sial as at the time of her nom­i­na­tion, she was not el­i­gi­ble to take the post, due to the seven years of legal prac­tice re­quire­ment for such ap­point­ments. She be­came el­i­gi­ble on 16 March this year, when she met the seven year legal prac­tice re­quire­ment. She was of­fi­cially ap­pointed af­ter this date.

Dr Hy­zler also in­tends on ex­press­ing his dis­ap­point­ment when it comes to the Lawyers Act, as it has not yet been im­ple­mented.

“This Bill was in­tro­duced in 2012, how­ever has been re­vised and to our knowl­edge we are in agree­ment on it. It has yet to be pre­sented for Sec­ond Read­ing.

“It is the law that reg­u­lates the legal pro­fes­sion in all as­pects from ethics to or­gan­i­sa­tion, mem­ber­ship, reg­u­lat­ing law firms, con­tin­u­ous pro­fes­sional de­velep­ment, etc,” he said.

This year the Cham­ber of Ad­vo­cates also stood up for the ju­di­ciary, con­demn­ing an ar­ti­cle penned by Glenn Bed­ing­field, crit­i­cis­ing a judge over a sen­si­tive judge­ment re­gard­ing Par­lia­men­tary seats.

In its state­ment, the cham­ber said that is al­ways re­spected free­dom of ex­pres­sion and the me­dia, and every­one has the right to con­test a judg­ment. But it is un­ac­cept­able that a judg­ment is turned into a per­sonal mat­ter and it is the judge who is crit­i­cised.

“Over the years, sev­eral peo­ple who had been po­lit­i­cally in­volved had been ap­pointed judges and mag­is­trates but they were al­ways im­par­tial in their judg­ments in the best in­ter­ests of jus­tice,” the Cham­ber had writ­ten.

George Hy­zler

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