Law Commission set up, Franco Debono appointed chairman

Former Nationalist MP working on the revision of laws now to chair five-member commission

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici and chairman of the Law Commission Franco Debono
Justice Minister Owen Bonnici and chairman of the Law Commission Franco Debono

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici has appointed a five-member commission tasked with revising, updating and consolidating laws according to the Statute Law Revision Act, enacted in 1980.

The Law Commission will be chaired by former Nationalist backbencher Franco Debono, first appointed Law Commissioner by the Labour administration. Together with Debono, the new law commissioners are lawyer Ramona Frendo, retired judge Philip Sciberras, law professor Ray Mongion and dean at the Faculty of Laws Kevin Aquilina.

Franco Debono is also consultant to the Prime Minister on the justice reform.

The Law Commission includes three external observers: former Head of Justice Unit and government consultant to the Attorney General Vanni Bruno, a representative of the Office of the Attorney General and a representative of the Chamber of Advocates.

The last consolidation exercise is believed to have taken place in 1942, when a Law Revision Commission chaired by Mr Justice Harding and Professor Ninu Mamo was in place. This Commission had continued meeting in 1984, under the chairmanship of Edgar Mizzi, former Attorney General.

“A lot of technical work is carried out in the revision and consolidation of laws. It is essentially streamlining the laws. In a society where there is rule of law, the consolidation of laws is imperative and a commission is required,” the Justice Minister told MaltaToday.

Bonnici added that such a Law Commission was never set up in recent years despite a law enacted in February 1980 to regulate it.

According to the Statute Law Revision Act, the Law Commission must prepare a revised edition of the statute laws of Malta, and for the purpose of preparing a Maltese text of all statute laws enacted or published without a Maltese text, the Minister may appoint a Commissioner, or a body of Commissioners to be known as the Law Commission.

Among others, the Law Commission has the power to omit statute laws of parts of statute laws that have been expressly repealed, expired or spent.

Bonnici confirmed that the Law Commission was set up following talks he held with Franco Debono, at the time the sole law commissioner.

The setting up of the Commission was published in the Government Gazette in July but no official statement through the Department of Information was issued.

Bonnici said he would have held a press conference “once the Law Commission would have officially met at least twice, in order to be in a better position to provide information on its operation”.

He added that the members of the Law Commission were not asking for any payments: “They are highly professional and didn’t ask for any payments. But they will receive remuneration for their work, according to existing procedures regulating boards and commissions.”

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