“Imperative” that compilations of evidence continue to be heard – Chamber of Advocates

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Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Chamber of Advocates urged the Law Courts to adopt virtual courtrooms and an electronic filing system. It also said that in cases in which the accused is being held in preventive custody, it is “imperative” that the compilations of evidence continue to be heard.

The Chamber has prepared a 9-page report in which it presented its proposals for reform within the Law Courts, so that it may continue operating in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report concluded that the Maltese judiciary system has not adopted digital methods offered by modern technology in the wake of coronavirus. The lawyers expressed that irrespectively of how long the lockdown may last, electronic filing processes should be introduced. They also encouraged the Court to explore the possibility of virtual courtrooms in certain instances. They feel that this should not stop once the pandemic reaches a halt.

The Chamber also stated that compilations of evidence should not have stopped, but should take place in a courtroom which is limited to the magistrate, the deputy registrar, the prosecutor and the defence lawyer. They also suggested that the room be disinfected prior to the hearing and that social distancing rules be applied. With regards to witnesses, the Chamber suggested video-conferencing or giving testimony from a separate room in the law courts.

Amongst the lawyers’ submissions, the criminal lawyers explained that in cases when the client is subject to a prison sentence, the lawyer must be next to the client to explain to him or her the legal consequences of such sentences. The proposed system does not apply to criminal lawyers because of privacy, the report states. The Chamber concluded that in such circumstances and when the lawyer’s position could be prejudiced, the Court must be cautious in its actions.

Read the full report here.

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