New Bill aims to seize premises without fair compensation, band club owners say

Owners of the De Paule band club in Paola told the Sunday Times of Malta that the proposed law is ‘unconstitutional’ while former Chamber of Advocates president Reuben Balzan said it is ‘manifestly unfair’

Owners of the De Paule band club in Paola said the Bill was ‘making a mockery of the judiciary and the rule of law’
Owners of the De Paule band club in Paola said the Bill was ‘making a mockery of the judiciary and the rule of law’

The band club Bill which is expected to move to its second reading in Parliament has been described as “totally unacceptable” by the former Chamber of Advocates president Reuben Balzan, the Sunday Times of Malta reported.

Owners of the De Paule band club in Paola said the Bill was “making a mockery of the judiciary and the rule of law,” as one of the owners, Maurice Zarb Adami, said it would result in property requisition without adequate compensation.

The proposed law aims to protect band clubs from court-ordered evictions, but only if the owners pay a rent 10 times higher than they were paying prior to the order, the newspaper explained.

Earlier this year, the owners of the Paola band club won the premises back following a 10-year legal battle. But Justice Minister Owen Bonnici said the government would intervene to make sure that the band club keeps the premises.

“The proposed legislation is intrinsically and fundamentally, legally, politically, and morally incorrect as it rewards persons who breach the nations own laws,” Zarb Adami said. “It is also discriminatory as it singles out a section of society and through specific legislation, disadvantages only this section.”

Zarb Adami said that the type of action brought about by the Bill would be unconstitutional, and that it had been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights, calling on to MPs and the President to recognise the fact.

“If the government decides as a matter of public policy that band clubs deserve special status because of their social importance, it needs to find a solution that doesn’t harm the owner,” Balzan said, describing the law as “manifestly unfair”.

A spokesperson for the Justice and Culture Ministry told the newspaper that the issue had been seen “in the perspective of band clubs’ social and culture importance”, and that the Bill would provide increased compensation to the owners.

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