A court has ordered the continuation of a civil claim for compensation filed by 10 clerical abuse victims after it turned down the former priests' request for them to contest the case.

The priests had failed to reply to the civil case within the stipulated timeframe so technically, they were prohibited from contesting the case.

In August 2011, Godwin Scerri, 78, and Charles Pulis, 69, were respectively sentenced to five and six years’ imprisonment for sexually abusing boys in their care at St Joseph Home, in Santa Venera more than two decades ago.

Mr Pulis was defrocked during the proceedings while Mr Scerri’s defrocking followed the court judgment, which was confirmed on appeal a month later.

Lawrence Grech, Joseph Magro, Leonard Camilleri, David Cassar, Noel Dimech, Angelo Spiteri, Raymond Azzopardi, Charles Falzon, Phillip Cauchi and Joseph Mangion filed a civil case in the First Hall of the Civil Court, calling on the court to liquidate the damages they suffered.

Since the former priests did not file their reply within the stipulated timeframe, they were found "in default" which means that they were in a way accepting the claim.

After this time window had elapsed, the former priests filed a request for the court to remove them from this position but Mr Justice Joseph Micallef rejected their plea, saying they had failed to convince the court that the reply was not filed through no fault of their own and due to circumstances beyond their control.

He, therefore, ordered the continuation of the civil case for compensation.