Law students’ organisation Għaqda Studenti Tal-Liġi (GħSL) and Justice Shadow Minister Karol Aquilina presented a bill to reform the judicial review process, which, if adopted, they say would make public authorities more accountable and strengthen the rule of law.
GħSL and Aquilina claimed the bill, presented in parliament on Monday, would introduce updates to the law, giving citizens more rights and protection against abuses of power, strengthen the role of the Ombudsman and better empower the courts to carry out justice.
A press release by GħSL said the bill would reform the judicial review process for administrative, legislative and judiciary acts. Judicial reviews empower the court to annul or confirm decisions made by public authorities on points of law but do not allow courts to issue their own decisions.
The public authority decisions affected would include the issue of licenses, permits, orders and warrants. Public authorities include the government, ministries and their departments, local authorities and warranting boards.
The bill makes a number of proposed amendments to the current law. It proposes lowering the requirements for persons allowed to partake in the judicial review process from “judicial” to “sufficient interest”.
The change would allow persons acting as representatives for groups or public interest, such as NGOs, to participate in the legal process.
If adopted, the bill would allow anyone to initiate the judicial review process. GħSL said this would allow anyone to attack the validity of a government-issued legal notice.
The bill also proposed extending the prescription time for such cases from six months to two years. The prescription period would be suspended while a case is under review by the Ombudsman.
The bill additionally proposes the inclusion of the Armed Forces of Malta and any other body fulfilling a public function under the legal definition of “public authority”.