The Constitutional Court has increased the amount of compensation to the owners of the De Paule Band Club in Paola. In its sentence, the Court increased the compensation from €74,000 to €100,000 after declaring that the amendments to the law on eviction are an abuse of power.
In April 2018, the Court of Appeal had confirmed the sentence for the Fra Antoine De Paule Philharmonic Society to vacate the premises. At the time, tvm.com.mt had been informed that the owners were asking for some four million euro for the sale of the property, but a spokesman for the Society had stated they were not able to afford this sum.
Some months later the Government had introduced amendments to the Civil Code with the aim of providing assistance and protection to musical societies at risk of eviction from their respective premises. The Government had stated that as a result of these amendments to the law, it was trying to create a balance between the rights of tenants, in this case, the bands, and the owners.
It was explained that band clubs that had been in existence for at least three generations would be given protection in the event they ended up without title, subject to the condition that the amount of rent at issue would be increased to a reasonable level. Besides, the owner would also benefit from the right to contest rental conditions before the Rent Regulation Board, which board is being given the right to remedy every manifestly disproportionate situation after taking into consideration the social and cultural functions of the club. On their part, the owners of the property had opposed the amendments to the law.
The First Hall of the Civil Court had declared that the new law went against the Constitution. This decision had been appealed by the band club, the State Advocate and the owners of the property.
In its decision, the Constitutional Court confirmed that the new law went against the Constitution as it breached the owners’ rights, including the enjoyment of their property.
Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti and Justices Giannino Caruana Demajo and Tonio Mallia concluded that the new law was censurable, and acceded to the request by the owners for compensation to be increased. The court increased the compensation to just over 108,500 euro which includes 15,000 euro in moral damages.
Meanwhile, in recent weeks the Government announced it would enter into negotiations with private industry to purchase band clubs from the National Social Development Fund. It was stated in details imparted by Minister Jose’ Herrera and Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat that this would be done so that the Government would provide a fair solution to owners of private properties and to avoid situations of evictions of band clubs from presently occupied properties.
Government in negotiations with private industry to buy band clubs from NDSF funds