A minor infraction is set to land one a tribunal hearing rather than a court, as a new bill aims to widen the powers of justice commissioners to include the hearing of minor offences, Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis said in a press conference on Wednesday.
The minister said a new bill will expand the types of crimes that can be heard by commissioners for justice, which typically oversee tribunals that adjudicate traffic offenses, among other things, in a bid to ease the burden of cases from the magistrates’ court.
He added that the consultation process of depenalisation had been ongoing for four years, with the aim of taking minor crimes such as those that affect public peace, people or property and creating a system where these low-impact cases could be heard.
“The need for this was felt as the depenalisation of offences in Malta started being classified as administrative, rather than criminal,” Zammit Lewis said.
“With this initiative we are ensuring that the courts will not be burdened with cases that could easily be heard and resolved by a justice commissioner. This will in turn free up magistrates to focus on serious criminal offenses, and for them to be heard within a reasonable time frame and with more efficiency.”
A list of what offences can now be expected to fall within the remit of justice commissioners and regional tribunals was not provided to the media.