The mission of Judges and Magistrates is encapsulated in the first sentence of their Oath of Office, that is to “…faithfully perform the duties of Judge [Magistrate] without favour or partiality, according to justice and right, and in accordance with the laws and customs of Malta, to the honour of God and the Republic of Malta.”
In the performance of their duties Judges and Magistrates are also to comply fully with the Code of Ethics for Members of the Judiciary in order to ensure the highest standards of correct ethical behaviour, thereby strengthening the trust in the administration of justice.
A leading English barrister, David Pannick, in his book Judges (OUP, 1987) wrote as follows (p. 169):
“The English judge is not a public figure. He acts on the principle adopted by Lord Widgery, Lord Chief Justice 1971-80, that ‘the best judge [is] the man who [is] least known to the readers of the Daily Mail’. Therefore, Lord Widgery advised, ‘judges should not court publicity and certainly should not do their work in such a way as to “catch the eye of the newsman”’.
This traditional reserve is also generally adopted by members of the Judiciary in Malta. Whereas justice is administered in public, the public at large know very little about Judges and Magistrates, how they are appointed, their terms of service, how they work, what are their powers. People who come into contact with the judicial system very often come away with a very distorted picture – whether in a positive or negative sense – of the Judiciary as a result of the few minutes they may have had to spend in the courtroom, whether as litigants or as witnesses, or as a result of the long time they may have had to wait in the corridors of the Court building for their case to be heard. Lawyers, legal procurators and, to a lesser extent, members of the public who have served as jurors in the Criminal Court, will no doubt have a different view of the Judiciary from that of the general public mainly because of the more or less prolonged contact with the Courts and the Judges and Magistrates who sit in them.
This website is intended to give some basic information about the Judiciary and to provide a glimpse into the working lives of the 47 members of the Judiciary in Malta – 25 Judges (including the Chief Justice) and 22 Magistrates. Although the site is mainly in English, which is one of the two official languages of Malta, some parts – like some documents, speeches and other information – will be in Maltese, which is the national language and the other official language, and which is also the language in which the vast majority of court proceedings are conducted.