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02.10.2020 

GħSL reacts to Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti’s speech during the Opening of the ‘Sena Forensi’ Ceremony -

“Any appeals for change will remain shelved until the University substantially addresses the financial and administrative exigencies of the Faculty”

 

As the largest law student organisation and representative body on campus, GħSL welcomes the Chief Justice’s proposal that the Law Course is to be revised in such a way that it addresses those law students who wish “to specialise in litigation in front of the Law Courts.” However, it delineates that such good intentions will remain on the shelf unless the proper logistical and financial aid is allocated to the Faculty of Laws.


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In yesterday’s speech, delivered at the end of what undoubtedly was a tumultuous chapter for the legal profession, and the beginning of what many expect to be a similar eventful twelve months, Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti made a number of salient points which undoubtedly portray a need for change in several aspects, comments which ought to be discussed further in the upcoming days and months.

 

Most notably however, the Chief Justice appealed to the Government, as well as the University of Malta, to consider revisions to the current law course “in order for a more specialised course to be drawn up, which addresses all those aspiring lawyers who would like to work in the Courts.”

 

It does appear that, while a large number of students are graduating every year, it’s only a small number of these new lawyers that at the end of the day decide to fully practice within the Law Courts. There already exists a problem, where only a small number of lawyers work within the Courts, and if this problem is not sufficiently addressed, in the near future we will have a situation where there won’t be a choice of lawyers who would be willing to work in the Law Courts, and an even smaller choice of practicing lawyers from which judges or prosecutors can be chosen.”

 

Chief Justice Chetcuti also laments the lack of lawyers with expertise “and the necessary tools to help the judiciary in these particular spheres, or people who practice their specialised profession purely in the juridical sector.”
 

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While GħSL firmly believes that the Chief Justice’s words are worth their weight in gold, and should be heeded immediately by all relevant stakeholders, GħSL notes that such statement will unfortunately remain simply public declarations, and not lead to any meaningful change, if the lack of resources allocated to the Faculty of Laws, as highlighted previously by this organisation, remains unaddressed.

 

This organisation makes reference to its earlier statement, published on the 1st of September, whereby a current shortage of members of the Faculty Administration Teaching and Administrative Staff was highlighted by this organisation.

 

In GħSL’s own words, “the situation at present borders on the untenable, and it’s the students enrolled within the Faculty of Laws which end up taking the brunt of the negative effects. Further well-known issues remain unresolved, but this specific issue only exacerbates the problem further, especially when the solution seems evident to almost everyone involved.”

 

While certain progress has been registered in this regard, it still remains significantly below the level necessary for the smooth operation of the Faculty of Law’s Administrative tasks. When taking in consideration the record number of students who are expected to enroll within the first year of the LL.B. Course (estimated to be over 300 new students) in less than a month’s time, the current situation remains ever so dire.

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This no longer remains a student issue, nor a Faculty issue; it’s not even a University problem. Chief Justice Chetcuti’s comments have, in one fell swoop, eliminated any such pretence.

 

GħSL reiterates its earlier call upon the University Administration to ensure that this crucial problem, in all aspects of staffing (administrative, teaching and otherwise) is resolved as quickly as possible.

 

Students cannot possible afford to have study-units put on hold, or face unnecessary delays or similar burdens, until the shortage gets resolved. Especially now, in the light of a public declaration by the Head of the Maltese Judiciary that the law profession cannot possibly press the stop button, but must rather enact change expeditiously and effectively.