Any administrative act may be scrutinised by the Administrative Review Tribunal

The Administrative Review Tribunal is competent to hear and decide any administrative act or measure taken by a public authority

The Administrative Review Tribunal is competent to hear and decide any administrative act or measure taken by a public authority. This was decided in Joseph Borg v Awtorita’ għat-Trasport f’Malta u Kunsill Lokali Żebbuġ on 7 February 2020 by the Administrative Review Tribunal presided by Magistrate Charmaine Galea.

In his application Borg explained that he works in the construction industry and has a number of heavy vehicles, which he garages in a garage next door to his residence.

The road is narrow and it is impossible for him to enter and exit the garage if there are parked cars next to the garage. In 2013, the Haz Zebbug Local Council painted 3.25 metres double yellow lines on one side of the garage, which allowed him to make use of the garage.

In September 2019, the road was reconstructed and these lines were not painted back. The Council said that they were following instructions from Transport Malta.

Borg asked the Tribunal to declare that the decision to remove these road markings as not in conformity with the correct manner administrative decisions should be made.

Transport Malta pleaded amongst other things that the Tribunal was not competent in terms of Article 5(2) of the Administrative Justice Act, which does not allow the Tribunal to review administrative acts, when these fall under a judicial review mentioned in Article 469A of the Code of Organisation and Civil Procedure.

Transport Malta (TM) further argued that the decision to remove the road markings was not taken by an administrative tribunal. Article 5 of the Act reads:

“5. (1) There shall be set up in accordance with the provisions of this Part of this Act, an independent and impartial tribunal, to be known as the Administrative Review Tribunal, for the purpose of reviewing administrative acts referred to it in accordance with this Act or any other law, and for the purpose of exercising any other jurisdiction conferred on the Administrative Review Tribunal by or under this or any other law, whether before or after the coming into force of this Act.

(2) The Administrative Review Tribunal shall not have a general jurisdiction to review administrative acts which are reviewable under article 469A of the Code of Organisation and Civil Procedure but it shall have jurisdiction to review those administrative acts as may be prescribed in or under this Act or any other law granting jurisdiction to the Administrative Review Tribunal over any class of administrative acts.”

Magistrate Galea held that it is clear that the legislator intended to give the Tribunal a limited scope of reviewing administrative acts, which a person may be aggrieved of and may appeal from those administrative decisions to the Tribunal.

The Malta Transport Authority Act is one of these legislations that allows such appeals to the Administrative Review Tribunal.

Therefore, the Tribunal does have the competence to decide upon decisions taken by the Authority. In this particular case, in 2013 the Authority authorised that road marking be painted adjacent to Borg’s garage and then the Authority removed these same lines. Therefore, this constitutes as an administrative act, which Borg is trying to revoke.

As regard to the second plea that the Tribunal was not limited to investigate issues raised by administrative board, this is established in Article 5 of the Administrative Justice Act.

TM had also pleaded that the decision taken was not a decision taken by a board or Tribunal forming part of TM. In terms of Article 3 of the Administrative Justice Act administrative Tribunals should follow certain norms.

However, this article does not differ from other administrative acts which are not taken by tribunals. All public authorities should follow these administrative norms.

The Court then ordered the case to continue on the merits of the case.

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