Malta improved its position in the European Commission’s Justice Scoreboard after it advanced three places, although in cases delays Malta remained classified with the EU’s worst four countries. It also emerged that almost half of the Maltese have a good perception on the independence of the judiciary.
Malta’s justice system classified in the first place in the EU in the rate with which civil, commercial and administrative cases are decided compared with the amount initiated.
The EU’s Justice Scoreboard, which is based on results achieved in 2016, gives a comparative overview of the independence, quality and efficiency of judiciary systems in EU member states.
In the classification, the Maltese justice system advanced three places when compared with the last valuation a year ago. Although Malta registered progress on the amount of time cases are heard in Court, it remains among the four worst countries before Portugal, Cyprus and Greece. Justice Minister, Owen Bonnici, said in a statement that the Court reforms have to continue so that cases are heard with more efficiency and in the shortest period.
Perception by the Maltese on the independence of the Courts and the judiciary is a bit better than the European average level. In Malta, 48% of the Maltese interviewed consider the judiciary system as good, compared with 47% of European average. The survey, however, shows that the perception in Malta was worse than the previous year, while it improved in European average. It also emerged that the Maltese are the least in the EU to seek remedies in Courts as only 2% of the Maltese are ready to recur to the Courts, in comparison with 38% of Danish citizens.
The Government stated that with regards to the judiciary independence it is committed to continue to strengthen the perception of the Judges and Magistrates’ autonomy, while it noted with satisfaction that, following the reform in the appointment of the judiciary, Malta has now joined with countries such as France and Ireland where the judiciary are appointed on the advice of an independent and autonomous board. The Government added that generally the scoreboard shows that Malta improved its services with technological means, including in the hearing of cases.
Improvement in the efficiency, quality and independence of the national judiciary systems is a priority of the European Semester and the European Commission has sent recommendations to five countries – Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Portugal and Slovakia.