Malta will get specialised magistrates in court overhaul, Minister says

Minister Jonathan Attard says government will expand the Law Court building and increase staff to address alarming court backlog

New inquiries will be handled by specialised magistrates in order to tackle the backlog of court cases, Justice Minister Jonathan Attard said on Monday.

Speaking on TVM’s Xtra, Attard said that the ministry working on several reforms to address court backlog.

This includes introducing specialised magistrates, changing the evidence-gathering phase, and introducing time frames so that cases will not be delayed.

“We must, however, wait for other reforms to take place,” the Minister added.

Attard was joined by the Nationalist Party’s justice spokesperson Karol Aquilina during the programme, who explained that magistrates are trying to accomplish the impossible under the current system.

“We currently have 1,700 open cases. Apart from civil and criminal cases, one magistrate in particular has 170 pending cases,” he said. “How can this, the same magistrate, also manage with over 1,400 district cases?”

Aquilina also mentioned how another magistrate has 1,700 pending traffic cases and another has 1,600 pending domestic violence cases.

On the need for a new courthouse, Attard said that there are no plans for a new building altogether, but tenders are in place to extend the existing building.