The Chamber of Advocates has unveiled a new service to help those people whose cases have been deferred for judgement for more than 18 months.

Chamber of Advocates president Reuben Balzan said that statistics showed that until January there had been 970 cases which have been put off for judgement.

Giving an example, he said a case had been put off for judgement since 2004. While some members of the judiciary had an average of around 20 cases, others had much more, such as 270 and 340.

Dr Balzan said there is a law whereby people who have been awaiting judgement for more than 18 months can file an application before the Chief Justice complaining about the situation and drawing his attention to it. They can request the Chief Justice to assign their case to a different judge or magistrate.

People in this situation may contact the chamber on 2124 8601 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. or e-mail and the chamber will file the application on their behalf.

Dr Balzan warned, however, that judges taking on such cases would need time to study them  and possibly appoint a hearing prior to passing judgement.

Asked for a reaction on the 22 points raised by Nationalist MP Franco Debono in a private members’ motion presented to Parliament yesterday, Dr Balzan said it was positive that these points are debated.

However, the debate had to start in-house between members of the legal profession and possibly members of the judiciary, who were also involved in the changes.

Some of the proposals Dr Debono had made were already in hand, such as the law to regulating the legal profession, originally proposed by the chamber in 2008. This was being drafted in-house by the chamber itself.

Regarding the appointment of judges and magistrates, Dr Balzan said it would “make sense” to improve the screening process prior to appointing a member of the judiciary. In other countries there were various systems in place including sitting for an examination.

Asked about the underperforming members of the judiciary, Dr Balzan said that only a few of the 38 underperformed and it was important that not all members were placed in the same basket.

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