Updated 12.30pm, adds Justice Ministry statement

The Association of the Maltese Judiciary has attacked the "persistent failures" of authorities to tackle staffing and other problems at court, warning that the system is at "the brink of collapse".

In a strongly worded statement, it warned that unless judges and magistrates are given adequate resources and competant staff, the judiciary will "not be in a position to deliver justice within a reasonable time".

The association welcomed the appointment of three new judges on Wednesday but pointed out that the move effectively increases the number of judges by one as two are due to retire in November.  

It complained that the "unattractive pay structure" offered by the Court Service Agency was failing to attract competent and well-trained workers. 

And it warned that although works were under way to increase space, these were sub-dividing existing spaces into smaller ones, which would lead to crowding the building even more.

"The Association laments the persistent failure of the authorities to address, with a long term plan, the acute problems within the Courts, which problems are now well beyond an acceptable level, being on the brink of collapse, and insist that considering the ever increase in population and workload of the Courts, unless the authorities seriously invest in competent staff and adequate resources, the Judiciary will never be able to provide the service they are requested and expected to provide," it said.

It said in order to serve justice within a reasonable time, the judiciary needed resources "which at present, the authorities are failing to provide".

In a reply, the Justice Ministry said it was again increasing the budget for the court to ensure more efficient justice.

Efficient justice did not only come from legislative reforms but also through investment in physical, digital and human resource infrastructure.

The ministry said that the investment and work being carried out on the physical space was not limited to interventions on the main court building but also to other buildings which were to serve this aim.

These included a new building for the eventual commercial court.

Moreover, public tenders for work on another new building that would house a number of criminal halls were to be issued soon.

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