The Maltese judiciary system is comprised of inferior courts, civil and criminal courts of appeal and the Constitutional Court. The inferior courts are formed by the Malta Court of Magistrates and the Gozo Court of Magistrates.
The Gozo courts in Malta
The Gozo Court was previously known as the Court of Magistrates of Judicial Police for the Islands of Gozo and Comino. The Gozo Court is divided into an inferior jurisdiction that rules over disputes that do not exceed amounts of approximately 11,650 euros. The superior jurisdiction of the Gozo Court handles cases that correspond to Malta’s Civil Court, but does not rule in cases of human rights violations. This section of the Gozo Court is divided into:
- a General Jurisdiction Department,
- a Voluntary Department,
- a Family Department.
The cases of appeal will be presented in front of the Court of Appeal in Malta.
The Gozo Court of Magistrates has also a criminal division and a Court of Criminal Appeal. However, extraditions are judged by the Malta Court of Magistrates.
The Court of Magistrates in Malta
The Malta Court of Magistrates serves as a criminal court in all types of disputes. The Court of Magistrates is usually conducted by one judge and it is divided into a civil and a criminal department. In civil suits, it rules in cases that surpass the Small Claims Tribunal and that cannot be judged by First Hall of the Civil Court.
In the criminal section, the court rules over cases in which the supposed crime doesn’t require over six months of detention, but if the Attorney General and the offender agree, the Court of Criminal Judicature is allowed to decide in cases that do not exceed 10 years of detention. In its role of Court of Criminal Inquiry, the Court of Magistrates also handles evidence collection.
The Juvenile Act has determined by law that the Court of Magistrates will serve as Juvenile Court as well. The Juvenile Court will rule in cases where the offender is under 16 years old. While acting in Juvenile Court, the judge will be assisted by two assessors and one of them must be a woman.
The Criminal Court in Malta
The Maltese Criminal Court deals with cases in which offenders are condemned to over six months of detention. There are also sentences that do not exceed 10 years of imprisonment and the condemned can choose to be trialed in the Court of Magistrates, but all other cases with sentences exceeding 10 years will be judged by the Criminal Court.
The Civil Court in Malta
The Civil Court in Malta is separated into:
- The General Jurisdiction or First Hall deals with civil and commercial disputes. It rules in cases of claims exceeding the amount of approximately 11,650 euro and in cases of human rights violations;
- The Family Department judges cases of divorce, child custody and alimony and all other matters governed by the Child Custody Act. Adoptions are trialed by the Voluntary Jurisdiction Department;
- The Voluntary Jurisdiction section rules over non-contentious cases.
The Court of Appeal and the Court of Criminal Appeal act as appellate bodies and hear cases of appeal in civil cases, respectively criminal cases.
The Constitutional Court in Malta
The Maltese Constitutional Court acts as a first instance court and as an appeal court as well. As an appellate body, it rules over the judgments from other courts. As a first instance court, it rules over election cases in the House of Representatives and general elections.
You can contact our law firm in Malta for details about the judicial system.
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