Gozitan lawyers frustrated by a deteriorating work environment and insufficient support staff in the Gozo court have taken action to protest the difficult conditions they’re expected to work under, according to a document submitted to the Gozo court.
The group of 19 lawyers said they will no longer attend court sittings, citing poor management and inadequate numbers of staff and court marshals as the main reasons. They stress their action is taken not out of disrespect to the courts, but because the situation has worsened to the point they can no longer carry out their work.
In a joint report submitted as minutes (verbal) during a civil case on 1 June, the group of lawyers listed 13 issues that hinder their work. These include delays in processing writs of summons, a number of documents getting stuck at the registry office, and documents not being processed and therefore not being brought to the attention of the magistrate or judge. They also claim court transcripts are not being delivered on time and documents are being lost that can’t be retrieved.
As the court’s registry office is understaffed, lawyers are forced to go to the court’s chambers to ask for any documents they need only to find that these are still at the registry. Court staff has to sift through stacks of loose acts during a sitting in order to present application documents (rikorsi) to the presiding magistrate or judge. In addition, there are several deficiencies in the court’s electronic systems as well as with the court’s internet access, to the extent that the court’s website can’t be accessed from within the court.
Moreover, as a result of the prevailing situation, the remaining staff at court staff are asking to be transferred, the lawyers said.
The group has asked for the minutes to be filed with the case and to be brought to the attention of the Chief Justice, the Chamber of Advocates, the Minister of Justice, Court Services Agency CEO Eunice Grech Fiorini, Gozo Courts Director-General Dr. Mary Debono Borg, and the Minister for Gozo.