Coronavirus: Law courts to shut down from next week

Court will shut its doors from Monday in a bid to limit Covid-19 transmission

The law courts will be shut down from Monday
The law courts will be shut down from Monday

The law courts will be shut from next week as efforts increase to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

All law court proceedings willl be suspended from Monday, except for any urgent cases or where the court decides otherwise.

A legal notice will be issued to shut the courts down. The legal notice remain in effect until it is revoked by the Superintendent for Public Health.

Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis told MaltaToday that the decision to temporarily suspend court sittings, and all other work at the law courts, was taken in agreement with the Chief Justice and the Chamber of Advocates.

“The decision is consistent with all other measures adopted by government, and specifically to protect and safeguard the health and safety of all stakeholders involved, namely the judiciary, advocates, staff and all citizens and individuals that attend the law courts for any reason,” Zammit Lewis said.

In comments to this newspaper, Chamber of Advocates president Louis de Gabriele said he was satisfied that after a day of discussions an agreement had been reached to close the courts completely in the interest of not spreading the coronavirus.

“The decision to close the courts is to our satisfaction,” he said.

Asked how the matter would play out in terms of the ongoing jury trial for the murder of Roderick Grech, de Gabriele said that the judge presiding over the case could decide to suspend proceedings if he felt it was in interest of the jurors’ health.

She could also decide that the trial should continue, but might opt to put in place safety measures, for example not allowing the public to attend  sittings and ensuring that jurors are seated a certain distance from each other.

de Gabriele said that such a decision would be the judge’s prerogative, and highlighted that the judiciary is well-placed to decide on such matters.

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