Judiciary faces overhaul in 2018 with retirement of chief justice Silvio Camilleri

Republic Day tomorrow sees retirement of Mr Justice David Scicluna, whle another three judges will retire in 2018 once they reach 65

Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri (right) will retire in April 2018
Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri (right) will retire in April 2018

Republic Day tomorrow will mark the retirement of Mr Justice David Scicluna as the judiciary faces an overhaul over the next 12 months.

Four judges will be retiring after reaching 65 years of age, including Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri, who retires on 26 April next year.

Speculation on Camilleri’s replacement has been rife for quite some time but it remains unclear whether the government will opt for a sitting judge or appoint someone from outside the judiciary. Camilleri had served as attorney general before his appointment to chief justice in 2010. His retirement will open up a crucial vacancy for Malta’s judiciary – a sensitive post for any government.

His predecessor, chief justice Vincent de Gaetano’s retirement happened last August but as is customary, will continue to serve his term as a judge on the European Court of Human Rights.

Camilleri was appointed after Vincent de Gaetano was nominated to the European Court of Human Rights. He was an ‘outsider’ candidate catapulted to the top post without having been a member of the judiciary.

In 2014, Camilleri’s bid to become Malta’s second judge in the General Court of the European Court of Justice, in Luxembourg, failed. Camilleri had applied for the post of to the General Court, formerly known as the Court of First Instance but failed to get the green light from a panel of EU judges who tested his suitability for the post, particularly his experience in EU legislation.

He might still be a possible candidate for successor of Malta’s sitting judge in the EU’s court of justice, Anthony Borg Barthet, who is expected to step down in October 2018. Eugène Buttigieg is currently a judge in the General Court, serving his second mandate until 2019.

The fourth judge to retire will be Antonio Mizzi, who reaches retirement age on 16 November 2018. Mizzi is the husband of Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi.

The information was given in Parliament on Monday by Justice Minister Owen Bonnici, who was answering a question by Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi.

Just last month, MaltaToday reported that lawyer Vincent Galea, the vice-president of the Chamber of Advocates, was tipped for promotion to the Bench after securing a green light from the commission that appoints members of the judiciary.

More judges are expected to be appointed in a bid to beef up Malta’s Court of Appeal and address a four-year backlog. These appointments are likely to be over and above the replacements for the retiring judges.

Judges and magistrates in Malta are appointed only after an independent commission vets candidates who put forward their name for appointment to the Bench.

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