Eight years needed to finalise present court cases - Parliamentary Secretary

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

If no new court cases are filed, Malta will take eight years to finalise all present cases, parliamentary secretary for justice Owen Bonnici said today.

He gave a presentation to the press about a report drawn up by the Management Efficiency Unit about the court system.

Dr Bonnici said the situation was "unacceptable" because it was scientifically impossible to cut down the backlog while fresh cases were being filed.

If all cases were evenly divided among judges, magistrates and adjudicators, it would take three years to eliminate the backlog, but this was not possible because of varying expertise.

The report found that court halls were only being used on average 41 per cent of the time since the vast majority of cases were heard in the morning, and only 17 per cent halls were used in the afternoon.

It also found there was a comparatively high ratio between workers to members of the judiciary, contrary to perceptions. This was primarily due to the fact that use of IT was practically nonexistent in court. Dr Bonnici said there was a problem of the way human resources were managed.

The report also found at it takes an average of 1,375 days to end a civil case (including appeal) and 3,375 days to end a criminal case (including appeal).

The report's findings and recommendations will form part of the work of the commission to review the justice system which will finalise its work by October.

Afterwards, the Government will announce how it planned to tackle the problems, by when and at what cost.

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