Compilation of evidence process will be revised to cut court delays, minister says

The compilation process will be revised, and all criminal acts in pending cases will be scanned, the minister revealed

Government will oversee the revision of the compilation of evidence process in court to cut down lengthy proceedings, the Justice Minister said on Wednesday.

During a parliamentary speech, Minister Edward Zammit Lewis said that the compilation process will be revised in its entirety to prevent court delays.

“We can’t have scenarios where people end up testifying three times during the compilation before the case ever goes to jury,” he said.

Zammit Lewis listed three other projects that will be taken on by the justice ministry over the coming year, including the implementation of an updated Whistleblower Act and improving court specialisation.

He revealed that, come November, a scanning project will take place on all criminal acts in pending cases. One of the primary advantages of this is to avoid referral processes.

A legal framework will also be adopted to ensure that criminal acts are available to police, the Attorney General, and the defence.

Throughout his speech, Zammit Lewis listed a variety of reforms taken on by the Labour government on rule of law and good governance, as a rebuttal to Bernard Grech’s earlier speech when he accused Zammit Lewis of not investing enough in the law courts.

Zammit Lewis noted how the Chief Justice had praised recent reforms for having strengthened the independence of the judiciary.

“Who am I going to believe? The Chief Justice or Bernard Grech?”

He mentioned how the Chief Justice was appointed unanimously, after an amendment that required a two-thirds parliamentary majority to appoint someone into the position.

He added that all the courtrooms provide for digital hearings, while a new courtroom is set to be built in the existing court building.

Zammit Lewis attacked the PN’s credibility on rule of law, noting how a law requiring that a lawyer be present during one’s interrogation was introduced under the Labour government, despite it being a controversial discussion in the last years of the PN administration.

“The Nationalist government lost its majority because of this reform,” he said, referring to Franco Debono and his qualms with the PN over justice reform before the 2013 election.