[WATCH] Length of court proceedings down by 28% in one year

Justice minister Owen Bonnici hails EU justice scoreboard findings as 'proof that justice sector becoming more efficient'  

Significant reductions in lenght of court proceedings • Video by Raphael Farrugia

Civil, commercial and administrative court proceedings in Malta lasted an average of just over a year and a half (558 days) in 2014, a reduction of 28% over the previous year.

The findings - which were revealed in the latest EU justice scoreboard - mean that Malta no longer occupies the ignominious position at the bottom of the scoreboard. It has leapt one place over Cyprus – whose rankings weren’t calculated in 2013 but who had ranked higher than Malta in previous years.

Court proceedings lasted an average of 789 days in 2013, 707 days in 2012 and 866 in 2011.

Justice minister Owen Bonnici hailed the results as “good news for Maltese households and businesses”, noting that average court proceedings went down even as the number of new cases increased in 2014.

The average time needed to resolve civil and commercial cases went down 750 to 536 days, while the average time needed to resolve administrative cases decreased from 203 to 140 days.

For this statistic, Bonnici noted that Malta had climbed from rock bottom in Europe in 2011 to third-highest in 2014, quipping that Malta had “managed to do a Leicester FC”.

Elsewhere, Malta ranks joint-top with regards electronic communication between courts and lawyers, ICT used for case management and online access to published judgements.

The gender balance in the judiciary also increased, and indeed Malta ranked first in Europe on the number of women appointed to the bench between 2010 and 2014. The actual gender balance remains below the EU average though.

The scoreboard also shows that 44% of Maltese people surveyed rated the independence of the judiciary as fairly or very good, while 31% rated it as fairly or very bad, and 25% were non-respondent.

Among businesses, 68% perceived the courts as sufficiently independence, while 30% perceived as them insufficiently independent and 2% were non-respondent. 

“For many years, Malta was content to stick with its antiquated court system while the rest of the world progressed,” Bonnici said. “While many people may have been skeptical that we could turn the justice sector into a more efficient system, these results offer proof that we are on the right track to do just that.” 

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