Updated at 5.19pm with Repubblika's reaction
A judge on Monday upheld a civil society group's request for the current system of judicial appointments to be vetted by the European Court of Justice and said the referral had to be made “with urgency”.
The decree was delivered on Monday morning by Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti presiding over the case filed by Repubblika.
Repubblika is challenging the long-standing system of judicial appointments, arguing it lends “arbitrary discretion” to the Prime Minister and therefore a breach of EU law.
Attorney General Peter Grech has indicated that he will appeal the decision and in a statement the government said it would be seeking leave to appeal.
In his decision, Mr Justice Chetcuti said that while the ECJ had pronounced itself on an issue concerning the judiciary in Poland, that case was distinct. It did not provide the court with enough peace of mind to pronounce itself on the delicate issues presented by the Repubblika case, he said.
The court adjourned the proceedings to this Thursday, when parties will receive a draft version of questions to be put to the ECJ. They will then be given time to come back with their amendments.
Once the parties’ feedback has been returned, the final version of the reference would be drawn up by the Court and referred to the ECJ.
After the decree had been read out, Attorney General Peter Grech informed the Court that he was requesting leave to appeal the decision.
The Court asked Dr Grech to cite the article of law upon which he was basing his appeal, but Dr Grech asked for some time to file his application.
Meanwhile, in view of the referral, all proceedings before the First Hall, Civil Court are to be suspended.
Lawyers Simon Busuttil, Karol Aquilina and Jason Azzopardi assisted Repubblika.
In a statement Repubblika welcomed the decision, saying its only objective was to safeguard the impartiality of the judicial system.It noted noted that government's intention to appeal was testament to its fears that it would lose the case before the European Court.