Lawyers in ‘boycott’ of Gozo court due to rampant administrative problems

20 lawyers normally working in the Gozo courts will boycott sittings until administrative shortcomings are addressed

The Gozitan Court in Victoria, Gozo
The Gozitan Court in Victoria, Gozo

A group of 20 lawyers who normally work in the Gozo courts have informed those courts of their intention to boycott sittings, until numerous administrative shortcomings are addressed.

In a note dictated to the court on Tuesday and reproduced in every sitting, the lawyers pointed out that summons, court applications, replies and notes were not being processed on time by the registry. Sitting transcripts were not being made on time, said the lawyers, adding that it was “unacceptable that they are made by lawyers who appear before the same court.”

Court files and documents were being lost and not logged on the court registry IT system, said the lawyers, adding that no documents were being scanned. Decrees are also not being communicated, whereas before this would happen instantaneously.

The registry’s shortcomings were causing work to spill over into the magistrates’ chambers as lawyers who were not being served in the registry would then go there to obtain the documents required.

Deputy registrars were having to search through piles of loose acts to find those yet to be notified, pointed out the group.

The lawyers alleged that Court registry staff were requesting transfers due to the confusion, also pointing out that there was no Assistant Registrar in charge, a fact which lead to delays in the processing of urgent warrants and garnishees.

There were also serious shortcomings in the electronic systems which led to sittings being delayed, as well as problems with the court WiFi which did not even allow access to the court’s own website.

In the light of this, all lawyers practising in Gozo informed the court that until there are clear answers as to when these issues will be remedied, they would not be attending sittings in Gozo with immediate effect.

The lawyers stressed that this was not out of disrespect to the authority of the courts, or to their clients, but solely because they believed that this was the only way that their complaints, those of their clients and the staff at the Gozo courts can be addressed in a timely manner.

The lawyers asked that a copy of the note be communicated to the Chief Justice, the Chamber of Advocates, the Ministry of Justice, the court CEO and Director General, as well as the Ministry for Gozo.

As a result of the action, Magistrate Simone Grech postponed all cases and upheld the requests made by the lawyers.