A Maltese couple has been awarded €42,0000 after dealing with 19-year court delay.
The Debarros filed constitutional proceedings after being forced to pay €34,950 after a property dispute, in which they were sued.
The first hearing of the case took place in May 2000. The case took a total of 19 years and 18 days to reach a final judgement after the applicant passed away, both parties took six years to compile evidence, different judges were assigned and endless deferments.
A final judgment was in 2019, which rejected the initial order for the couple to fork out €34,950.
The Debarros then filed proceedings, claiming their right to a fair hearing was breached since they had to pay interest for 19 years, causing them great financial difficulties.
The court ruled in their favour, saying the delays were unjustified. The state was ordered to fork out €39,144 in material compensation and an additional €3,000 in moral damages.
While figures for the length of criminal cases is not immediately available, a 2020 EU study of Malta’s courts found that its delays are some of the longest in Europe.
Court delays can sometimes have fatal consequences. Daniel Muka, the man who allegedly murdered two men in their Sliema home, was out on bail because of court delays at the time of the murder.
Prime Minister Robert Abela has recently pledged to address the decades-old problem of severe delays in Malta’s courts.
His comment comes after Marc Dalli, son of EU Commissioner Helena Dalli was sentenced to three months in prison over an incident with six ecstasy pills eight years ago.