As lawyers take on strike action, over a 100 court sittings in Gozo have had to be postponed. The lawyers are refusing to attend sittings, causing Gozo’s courts to come to a standstill ever since Thursday. An assistant registrar and a full-time court marshal are all absent, as staff shortcomings are becoming a continuous reality in several branches of the courts. Documents are bing lost or go unscanned, with others not being served on time to parties or judges.
The Court Services Agency met lawyers on Tuesday to hear complaints over a long list of shortcomings at the Victoria courthouse. These even include authorities ignoring shortcomings identified by the Occupational Health and Safety Authority and the Commission for People with Disabilities in the cramped old building located within the Citadel.
Lawyers are demanding improvement in the environment and the facilities. They were told that a deputy registrar has been appointed and given information on measures that are to be taken. These include a marshal from Malta crossing over to Gozo twice a week and eventually daily. The prospect of have more staff being moved to Gozo to improve the situation was also discussed.
Despite this, lawyers have decided to continue their strike as they argue that very little progress has been made since their collective action in June. The promised measures, they argued, did not adequately address the needs of the Gozo courts. Unless actual progress was made, lawyers will refrain from attending sittings.
‘The Gozo courts, the judiciary, practicing lawyers and the citizens deserve better and should not be treated differently.’ The lawyers also expressed appreciation that lawyers from Malta did not attend sittings in Gozitan courts out of solidarity with those permanently based in Gozo.
Photo Source: GozoNews