A request by former Justice Minister Joseph Brincat to intervene in the judicial appointments case filed by civil society group Repubblika, was upheld by the court on Thursday.

Dr Brincat had argued that his request was not “frivolous” but stemmed from his firm belief that “it is not right to have attacks upon and inferences against the Maltese judicial system, that was deeply rooted in traditions, irrespective of any opinion of any judge or magistrate”.

Repubblika is contesting the current system of judicial appointments which leaves “absolute discretion” to the Prime Minister. It is also seeking to annul the appointment of three magistrates and three judges in April, arguing that no new members should have been added to the bench until the recommendations of the Venice Commission were in place.

The body of constitutional experts said that Malta needed better checks and balances to ensure proper rule of law on the island and that the Office of the Prime Minister was at "the centre of power".

Dr Brincat argued that the Commission and its experts were likewise appointed by their home governments, when filing his request to intervene in the lawsuit, currently pending before the First Hall, Civil Court, presided over by Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti.

At this stage the Court, is expected to decide whether to uphold the NGO’s request for a reference to the European Court for a preliminary ruling.

In a decree delivered on Thursday, Mr Justice Chetcuti observed that Dr Brincat had “an interest to intervene in the case” which was a popular action based upon article 116 of the Constitution.

Such an action was open to “all persons without distinction” who were not “required to show any personal interest” in support thereof, the law says. 

Thus, after taking note of the replies filed by the parties to the suit, the Court upheld Dr Brincat’s request to “contribute to the debate,” and to do so by filing a reply, by October 28, to Repubblika’s request for a reference to the European Court. 

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