Judiciary of Malta
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The judiciary of Malta is a branch of the Government of Malta that interprets and applies the laws of Malta, to ensure equal justice under law, and to provide a mechanism for dispute resolution. The legal system of is based partially on English law and partly on Continental law, whilst also being subject to European Union law. The judiciary is defined by the Constitution of Malta as a hierarchical system of courts, with a Constitutional Court, separate Civil and Criminal Courts of Appeal and various inferior courts. Inferior courts are presided over by Magistrates with original jurisdiction in criminal and civil actions. In the criminal courts, the presiding judge sits with a jury of nine. The Court of Appeal and the Court of Criminal Appeal hear appeals from decisions of the civil and criminal courts respectively.
The highest court, the Constitutional Court, has both original and appellate jurisdiction. In its appellate jurisdiction it adjudicates cases involving violations of human rights and interpretation of the Constitution. It can also perform judicial review. In its original jurisdiction it has jurisdiction over disputed parliamentary elections and electoral corrupt practices.
The Chief Justice of Malta and the judges of the superior courts are appointed by the President, on the advice of the Prime Minister of Malta. Guarantees for the independence of the judiciary include the security of tenure for judges until the mandatory retiring age of 65, or until impeachment. The impeachment procedure for judges foresees a removal decision of the President on the request of two-thirds the House of Representatives. Impeachment may be based on the grounds of proved inability to perform judiciary functions in office (whether it is infirmity of body or mind or any other cause) or proved misbehavior by the Commission for the Administration of Justice. The independence of the judiciary is also guaranteed by the constitutional requirement that the judges’ salaries are paid from the Consolidated Fund and thus the government may not diminish or amend them to their prejudice.
Accession to the European Union
In its pre-accession evaluation reports in 2003, the European Commission suggested that there should be reform the judicial appointment procedure, currently "controlled by political bodies" (i.e. the Parliament and parties therein), to improve objectivity. The Commission also pointed to the need to check the procedure for challenging judges and magistrates provided for by Article 738 of the Code of Organisation and Civil Procedure with the principle of an impartial tribunal enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.
- "Chapter VIII". Constitution of Malta. Justice Services, Government of Malta. p. 54. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
- "The Courts". Judiciary of Malta. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
- "Comprehensive monitoring report on Malta’s preparations for membership". European Commission. 2003. p. 13. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
- "Regular report on Malta's progress towards accession". European Commission. 2002. p. 17. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
- Joanna Drake, P G Xuereb and Eugene Buttigieg (1997). "18: Malta". In Winterton and Moys. Information Sources in Law (Second ed.). Bowker-Saur. pp. 307 to 319.