Chief Justice Joseph Azzopardi said that the judiciary cannot reply to certain questions put to it by some people. On the appointment of the judiciary, he said that this is not a current issue but goes back years ago, adding that the judiciary has a very good tradition. He assured that the committee for the appointment of the judiciary considers each application and had refused some because these needed more court practice, especially in litigation.
Speaking during the opening of the forensic year, he remarked that today’s youths do not resemble the past because many of the young lawyers employ themselves with companies. He stressed that Magistrates have great responsibilities and are loaded with more work than they can handle. Dr Azzopardi added that population increase and the presence of foreigners in Malta have lead to an increase in crime, which led to more work for the Police and the Courts.
Referring to the Commission for the Administration of Justice, Dr Azzopardi mentioned a sacred principle that the law applies to everyone in the same way and no one should neglect the law because he feels it is not just. He said that in this case, the law should be changed and not breached.
The Chamber of Advocates President, Dr Louis de Gabriele, said that he hoped that this year will see the presentation in Parliament of a bill to regulate the legal profession. He stated that during the past 30 years the socio-economic environment changed and saw the evolvement of the profession’s needs growing further. He remarked that many lawyers do not practice any longer only in Court but in other sectors. Dr de Gabriele stated that the Chamber of Advocates has recognised since 2008 the general need that the profession updates itself to meet the challenges of the development in society.
He stressed that the profession cannot continue to be regulated in an informal way and emphasized that lawyers are professional people and not businessmen. The judicial system, he added, is based among others on lawyers’ confidence. Following the Moneyval’s report publication, the Chamber’s president said that now is the right time to implement the bill.
The forensic year ceremony started with a Mass at St John’s Co-Cathedral Oratory. Archbishop Charles J Scicluna told members of the judiciary that their presence is a commitment to deliver themselves according to the truth, even if the price may be high. The Archbishop quoted from a speech by Pope Francis to Italian Magistrates, when he said that in order to arrive at a prudent judgement one does not need to fear but to search oneself. Mgr Scicluna said that Pope Francis stresses on the external and internal independence of the judiciary.