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State To Fork Out €35,000 After Malta Civil Case Drags On For 18 Years

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Another case of severe court delays has ended with the state forking out €35,000 in compensation, after a defendant’s civil court case, involving an unpaid commercial lease, dragged on for 18 years.

The civil case against Mark Micallef was filed in November 2002 after he failed to pay a year’s rent totalling Lm 15,000 (€34,941) for a commercial place in Sliema.

Almost two decades later, Micallef’s case was deferred for sentencing no less than 23 times.

A sentence was issued on 12th Janaury 2015, after the case was reassigned from then-Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri to Judge Wenzu Mintoff.

In 2015, Judge Mintoff ordered the accused to pay the €34,941 he owed, but Micallef appealed the ruling ten days later. However, the case only started to be heard on 2nd December 2019, and the Court of Appeal only issued its sentence confirming the original ruling on 6th October 2020.

Micallef subsequently filed a court case pertaining to the severe court delays, noting that he was asked to pay €50,000 in legal interest, an amount higher than the original fine, as well as a garnishee order which prevented him from accessing his bank account.

The ruling sees Micallef awarded  €33,542 in damages as well as all legal expenses related to the case to be incurred by the State Advocate.

Delays in Malta’s courts are a majorly pressing issue in the country. While figures for the length of criminal cases are not immediately available, a 2020 EU study of Malta’s courts found that its delays are some of the longest in Europe.

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Sam is a journalist and artist based between Valletta and Berlin. Send her pictures of hands or cool, need-to-know stories on [email protected]

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