The civil lawsuit filed by Opposition Leader Adrian Delia calling for the deal between the government and Vitals Global Healthcare to be rescinded has been put off until an appeal filed by the government and Vitals is definitively settled.
The decision was taken by Mr Justice Silvio Meli.
The suit had been filed by Dr Delia against Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the Attorney General, Malta Industrial Parks and VGH calling for Karin Grech, St Luke’s and Gozo hospitals to be given back to the people because contract conditions had not been respected.
The Prime Minister, the AG and the Lands Authority had raised a preliminary plea claiming that the suit was inadmissible since it could only have been filed up to the date when the final deed was signed.
However, Dr Delia’s lawyers had countered that this argument fell within the merits of the case and was not to be tackled as a preliminary plea.
During the previous hearing the court had labelled this case as one of “great importance” which therefore was not to be broken down into various preliminary stages, calling for separate decisions rather than one final judgment.
However, proceedings have now come to a halt as the court upheld the respondents’ request for a right of appeal against its decision to decide upon a number of preliminary pleas in one final judgment.
For this reason, Mr Justice Meli has put off the case indefinitely until the appeal is decided.
As for the other request by the government and Vitals to have the case heard behind closed doors, Mr Justice Meli observed that “The only defence of the judicial process is transparency.”
Dr Delia’s lawyers argued that the public had an interest in knowing whether what was authorised by Parliament was being adhered to or not.
Consequently, it was senseless to keep the transfer agreement hidden from the public eye, MP and lawyer Jason Azzopardi argued.
Lawyers Stefano Filletti, for the Lands Authority, and Victoria Buttigieg for the AG argued that since Dr Delia's request had been to annul the emphyteutical concession in respect of VGH, any deeds drawn up after that concession, containing ‘sensitive commercial information,’ were not to be aired in the public domain to the detriment of third parties.
However, the request by respondents to have the case heard behind closed doors was turned down, Mr Justice Meli declaring that the court would decide for itself which information was too sensitive for public consumption or otherwise.
Lawyers Edward Debono and Jason Azzopardi are counsel to Dr Delia.
Lawyer Victoria Buttigieg from the Office of the AG is counsel to the prime minister.
Lawyer Stefano Filletti is counsel to the Lands Authority.
Lawyer John Bonello is counsel to Malta Industrial Parks.
Lawyer Adrian Meli is counsel to VGH.