A court has revoked an injunction, provisionally upheld in December in favour of the engineers’ union, which had sought to block the approval of MCAST engineering courses.

The Malta Association of Professional Engineers had sought to stop the Engineering Profession Board from going ahead with the approval of such courses, including the pre-warrant qualification course, after repeated calls for information and consultation to the board chairman had been ignored. 

Such MCAST courses were far from equivalent to engineering courses run by the University of Malta and other European universities, the union had argued, stressing that consultation with all interested parties was called for in terms of the law.

Following a hearing last month, the First Hall, Civil Court, presided over by Mr Justice Toni Abela, delivered judgment on Tuesday, revoking its previous decision whereby it had provisionally upheld the request for a warrant of prohibitory injunction.

Injunction proceedings were “special and particular”, said the court, adding that any observations which touched upon the merits of the claim were to be avoided. 

Faced with such a claim, the court was to determine whether the warrant was necessary to preserve the right of the party seeking such remedy and whether this party possessed such prima facie right.

However, the court was also to determine whether the procedure for obtaining such injunction has been scrupulously followed.

In this case, the law made it expressly clear that no such warrant was to be issued against the government or any public authority or office, such as the Engineering Profession Board and its chairman, “unless the authority or person against whom the warrant is demanded confirms in open court that the thing sought to be restrained is in fact intended to be done and the court is satisfied, after hearing the explanations given, that unless the warrant is issued, the prejudice that would be caused would not be capable of remedy”.

After closely examining the records of the case, the court concluded that such criterion had not been satisfied. 

Nowhere had the board, as represented during the hearing, made any such declaration.

Nor had the union seeking the injunction called for such a declaration from the other party in open court, Abela observed. 

It was up to the parties to make sure that procedures were followed, said the Judge, adding that it was not for the court to decipher what the public authority had in mind after following submissions during the hearing. 

Indeed, it was not enough for such intention to be stated in the written reply, but it also had to be expressed in open court, he declared.

Moreover, MCAST itself clearly had an interest in the matter and had, in fact, requested authorisation to be admitted in the proceedings.

But the court had concluded that the injunction proceedings did not qualify as a lawsuit in terms of the legal provision under which the admission in statu et terminis had been requested. 

It was manifestly clear that the union was aware of MCAST’s interest so its original application was lacking since MCAST ought to have been a party in the proceedings.

Because of this, it would not be appropriate for the court to uphold the union’s request when third party interests, known when proceedings were instituted, could be affected by such decision, concluded the court, revoking the injunction and rejecting the union’s claims.

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