Judge calls for body of specialised inquiring magistrates to be created

Newly-appointed Judge Neville Camilleri says time has come for magistrates specialised only on inquiries because these have increased in number and complexity

Judge Neville Camilleri
Judge Neville Camilleri

Judge Neville Camilleri has called for specialised inquiring magistrates to be appointed alongside magistrates who deal with the normal caseload in his first court sitting.

Camilleri, 47, had served for 10 years as a magistrate before being selected as a judge of the superior courts.

In his inaugural sitting this afternoon, Camilleri promised that his ethos would not change from his days in the lower courts: “Be on time and be prepared.”

Coping with the ever-increasing workload in court was not easy for court staff, lawyers and also for the judiciary, he said.

Despite the addition of new faces to the bench, he appealed to the authorities to appoint more members of the judiciary. Staff problems also need to be addressed, he said.

Pointing out that the role of magistrates had changed a lot over the years, he said the time had come for magistrates specialised only on magisterial inquiries to be appointed as these inquiries have increased in number and complexity. It was not easy to keep up with the work of judging and investigating, he said.

Lawyer Louis De Gabriele, as president of Chamber of Advocates, wished the new judge well in his post and praised his seriousness and courage. Camilleri had always carried out his responsibilities with integrity and there was a consensus amongst the legal profession on this point.

De Gabriele urged a rethink of the court’s systems from the ground up. “We must ask ourselves if what we see around ourselves is still relevant. We have systems which were excellent when the volume of cases was less, but which now must be updated.”

The legal profession must restructure itself in the light of external challenges, added the veteran lawyer.

De Gabriele expressed solidarity with his Gozitan colleagues, who are on strike due to administrative problems at the Gozo courts. He pointed out that “two years ago in this hall, there was a call for addressing the issues in Gozo. These have not been met”.