All are equal under the law, but some are more equal than others
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All are equal under the law, but some are more equal than others

Does the Delia case mean it is possible to have decrees issued within 12 hours?

Nickie Vella De Fremaux and Adrian Delia pictured in 2017.

Nickie Vella De Fremaux and Adrian Delia pictured in 2017.

The Delia/De Fremeaux drama was plastered all over local social media over Christmas time, with everyone pushing their own agenda. While I have my own opinions about the Opposition leader – who could potentially be Prime Minister – being accused of domestic violence, what struck me most was how quickly his application was dealt with by the courts.

Dr Delia submitted an urgent application (“rikors b’urgenza”) on Christmas Eve, and he had a positive reply to his request within 12 hours. Now I would like to hear from anybody else who has ever submitted an urgent application to the Family Court and received a reply within 12 hours. I am definitely not one of those people. I personally have an urgent application which has been sitting in the judge’s chambers, waiting for his urgent decree, since November. Does this action by the courts mean it is indeed possible to have decrees issued within 12 hours rather than months

Whenever us common mortals wish to travel with our children, for example, we have to submit an urgent application to court at least two months in advance if we hope to get a court decree on time to book the flights. Furthermore, contrary to what appears to be the case with Dr Delia, the rest of us normally have to open mediation proceedings first, and then and only then file the urgent application within these mediation proceedings. Otherwise, the application is refused and we are sent to mediation.

So why was Dr Delia’s application considered with such urgency while the rest of us sit, gathering dust and accumulating lawyer fees while damage continues to be inflicted on our families and children? Are my children any less important than Dr Delia’s? I don’t think so. I think it is simply a result of the breakdown of the rule of law in this country.

The most important demand of the rule of law is that those in positions of power and authority should not exercise their power in an arbitrary manner. This is especially true for those individuals we selected to safeguard and protect our rights, and the Opposition leader is bound by the Constitution to do so. These individuals, with the duty to protect the rule of law, are the ones with the greatest responsibility to adhere to it and to ensure common mortals see it operating on a practical level. Anything less suggests abuse of power.

Constitutional law theorist Albert Dicey wrote that “No man is above the law and every man, whatever be his rank or condition, is subject to the ordinary law of the realm and amenable to the jurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals.”

Dr Delia did not break the law by submitting an urgent application on Christmas Eve, but I feel the courts did an injustice on the rest of us when they decreed on his application within 12 hours. The rest of us never see such efficiency. Why? Because he is “important”? Or because the courts are afraid to keep his royal highness waiting like the rest of us?

Does this action by the courts mean it is indeed possible to have decrees issued within 12 hours rather than months? Because if this is the case, this precedent is great news for the rest of us, and I am certain that following this, the courts will be flooded with urgent applications requesting an abbreviation of timeframes, expecting (not hoping) for similar efficiency.

This would show respect for Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which we celebrated on December 10 amid speeches by the President) which states that "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law."

Otherwise, Jonathan Swift would be proved correct when he wrote, “Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.”

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