Watch: PN invites government to legislate on virtual court hearings

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Partit Nazzjonalista has urged the government to enact the necessary legal framework which would allow for virtual court hearings to take place.

Addressing a press conference on Monday afternoon, Shadow Minister for Justice Jason Azzopardi underlined that the urgency with which this issue needs to be addressed.

Proceedings before courts, except for most urgent cases, have been suspended since mid-March, as restrictive coronavirus measures were introduced.

Azzopardi said that the Opposition was ready to hold discussions with the government to introduce an emergency law which would allow for virtual court sittings. He maintained that by enacting the necessary legal framework, those seeking redress through court would not wait indefinitely for justice to be served until court hearings resume.

The Opposition endorsed the proposals put forward Chamber of Advocates last week. The Chamber made fresh call for virtual hearings, stressing that such sittings were a zero-risk alternative and ensured social distancing. In their proposals, the Chamber of Advocates had also suggested mapping out the number of sittings, allotting 15-minute slots to avoid overcrowding in halls and corridors, as opposed to having ten cases all appointed for hearing at 9am, among other proposals put forward.

Shadow Minister for Home Affairs Beppe Fenech Adami spoke about the length of proceedings in cases relating to the family court, where parties seek recourse on issues of supervised access and alimony. He explained that parties had to wait for months on end for justice to take its course. The new situation brought about by the outbreak will cause further unnecessary delays. He urged the government to remedy the situation.

Opposition MP Ivan J. Bartolo spoke about the need to overhaul the Courts’ IT system and the digitalisation of the courts. He maintained that legal services should not be confined to a particular place but should also be accessed virtually. He remarked that legal services could be offered through a digital platform.

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