The Opposition has given notice of a draft bill aimed at making it easier for people to contest government decisions in court.  

Presented to the Speaker's Office on Monday, the bill was announced by the Nationalist Party and the Law Students' Association and aims to consolidate and expand the law on judicial review.  

Through judicial review, people can challenge administrative, legislative and attorney general decisions in court. The court can then revoke or confirm the government's decision.  

"We want to give more rights to the people and introduce stronger protection against abuse of power," the shadow minister for justice, Karol Aquilina said.

As the law stands, only people personally affected by a government decision can challenge it. But should this bill become law, anyone with "sufficient interest" can go to court, Aquilina explained. 

This meant that anyone would be able to challenge a legal notice or an administrative act in the public interest, he said.  

An administrative act may include any order, licence, warrant, permit or decision by a public entity.   

People with "sufficient interest" would also be able to challenge the attorney general for not prosecuting a particular case should the bill be adopted, the PN MP said.   

Aquilina sat alongside Andrew Drago, president of Għaqda Studenti tal-Liġi (GĦSL), the law students' group.  

Drago explained the finer details of the bill.   

He said the bill also extended the time when anyone could challenge a government decision from six months to two years.   

And should someone go to the Ombudsman, the time limit would be suspended pending the Ombudsman's decision.   

"This gives more power to the Ombudsman, who is often bypassed at present as people would rather immediately go to court since the court's decisions are enforceable".  

Should the bill go through, people would be able to go to the Ombudsman without fearing that the six-month deadline to go to court would run out, he said. 

He said that the definition of a public entity would also be expanded to include every entity that served a public function including the Armed Forces, who are currently not subject to judicial review.  

The process would also simplify and codify the judicial review process in one law, Drago said.

The bill was presented to the Speaker. Should the government agree with the proposed legislation, it could put it on the agenda of the House, Aquilina said. 

Otherwise, the Opposition could move it as a private member's motion in the days allocated for Opposition business.  

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