The concept of a “Judiciary Team” was introduced some years back by agreement between the then Minister responsible for Justice, Dr Austin Gatt, and the then Chief Justice, Joseph Said Pullicino. Up till then it was not unusual for a Judge or a Magistrate not to have a deputy registrar or a court clerk attached permanently to him or her, but to have to rely on whoever was assigned by the Registrar on a day to day basis to sit in court with the said Judge or Magistrate. Needless to say, this created a number of problems, not least with the considerable amount of paper work which necessarily precedes and follows every sitting of a court. It was therefore agreed that henceforth every member of the judiciary would have a team as part of his “regular” staff. Each Judge or Magistrate would be responsible for his own team in so far as related to the work assigned to that Judge or Magistrate, with the Registrar and the Director General (Courts Division) retaining only remote control over the members of the team in connection with matters of discipline and, in case of emergency, temporary transfer to assist another member of the judiciary.
By and large the system has worked well, although a number of posts in many teams – especially posts involving minor staff – have remained vacant due to general restrictions on recruitment in the civil service.
A typical team of a Judge sitting in the First Hall of the Civil Court would include a Judicial Assistant, a Deputy Registrar, a Registry Clerk, a Court Assistant, two officers “minor staff” (e.g. an usher or messenger), and a driver. Some members of the judiciary, because of the nature of their work – for instance the Judges sitting the Family Section of the Civil Court – have been assigned more than one Judicial Assistant and Deputy Registrar.
The key figure in every team is the Deputy Registrar, who co-ordinates the work of the other members of the particular “Judiciary Team” other than that of the Judicial Assistant. In the case of a collegial court – Constitutional Court, Court of Appeal and Court of Criminal Appeal – the Deputy Registrar acts under the general direction of the president of the court concerned.
In 2017, Court Attorneys were introduced to assist Judges in the drafting of Judgments and other decisions, in order to tackle the backlog of cases pending for judgment.