Strasbourg, 03 March 2005
CCJE (2005) 19
Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)
Questionnaire on theme “Justice and society”: Reply submitted by the delegation of Malta
THE EDUCATIONAL ROLE OF THE COURTS IN A DEMOCRACY
A.1. The main measure recently adopted to inform justice users and/or the general public about the functioning of the judicial system, is through the website http://www.justice.gov.mt. This is the website of the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs which, besides listing court statistics, offers a wide range of court services the most important of which are grouped under three categories, namely Judgments Online, Civil Cases, Hall Usage. Appendix I reproduces the website information about these services.
This website provides other information regarding the structure of the law courts system, and about the various divisions within the Maltese courts. It also provides a historical insight about our judicial system and gives information about the local judiciary. The website considers the role of the office of the Attorney General within the Maltese legal system and has other relevant information about the Chamber of Advocates and the Chamber of Legal Procurators.
Thus this website, besides providing easy access to the majority of judgments delivered by our courts, gives some essential information to the general public about the functioning of the judicial system. However, it fails to give information on the nature of proceedings available, the average length of proceedings in the various courts, the costs and risks involved in case of wrongful use of legal channels. It also fails to inform the public about the alternative means of settling disputes that may be available to the parties. The latter gap, to a certain extent, is filled by the website of Malta Arbitration Centre: <www.mac.com.mt>. The public can also access the website of the Chamber of Advocates. The local Association of Judges and Magistrates, the Commission for the Administration of Justice, as well as the Univeristy do not play any significant role in informing the general public about the functioning of the judicial system.
A.2. The Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs website provides statistical information, which goes some way to satisfy the information needs of policy makers, academics and other interested parties.
A.3. An interested party can learn quite a lot from reading the decisions issued by the Courts of Justice. These decisions settle particular disputes, but if they are considered cumulatively, they can also provide a good insight into what is actually going on in society at that particular moment in time.
A large majority of these judicial decisions are available to all interested parties and to the general public, free of charge, through the said website of the Ministry of Justice. It must also be stressed that the local press gives a lot of publicity to the most import judicial decisions, especially those in the criminal field.
A.4. Information about the judicial system features in the schools’ social studies curriculum. At University level, certain courses (for example, Medicine and Architecture) provide detailed information about the legal aspects involved in their particular field of study, as well as the applicable court practices. All court sittings are open to the public and therefore educational visits are possible. However, this facility is rarely used.
A.5. No such programmes, as envisaged in the question, are available in Malta.
A.6. As no such programmes exist, the requested information is not available.
THE RELATIONS OF THE COURTS WITH THOSE INVOLVED IN THE COURTS PROCEEDINGS
B.1. a) No programmes are available, at present, to offer training to judges, court staff and lawyers about the particular aspects of training mentioned in paragraph 21. (a). However, the recent establishment of the Judicial Studies Committee, whose principal remit is to provide judicial training to all judges and magistrates, as well as the establishment of the Academy for Training of Law Courts Personnel, will, hopefully, address this particular aspects of training in the very near future.
Most of the objectives mentioned in paragraph 21. (b) regarding court infrastructure, have been reached in Malta a long time ago.
At present there do not seem to be any programmes, in place or planned, to cater for the objectives mentioned in paragraph 21.(c) regarding court procedures.
A system of legal aid has been in force for a very long time in Malta. This benefit is provided in the Code of Organisation and Civil Procedure through title X “Of The Admission To Sue Or Defend With The Benefit Of Legal Aid”. However, there are no other programmes, in place or planned, that provide further access to justice, as specified in paragraph 21.(d).
THE RELATIONS OF THE COURTS WITH THE PUBLIC
I. DIRECT RELATIONS OF THE COURTS WITH THE PUBLIC
C.1. No such programmes are being carried out or seem to be planned to provide for direct relations of the court with the public.
II. INDIRERCT RELATIONS OF THE COURTS WITH THE PUBLIC – JUSTICE AND THE MEDIA
C.4. There are no restrictions to the right to information in the field of civil judicial activity, as the rule is that the relative court files can be freely inspected by anybody who wishes to so so. Criminal Court files however, are not accessible to the public, although the decisions delivered by the Criminal Courts are freely available to whoever requests to see them. All court sittings are held in public and the media reports extensively what happens during court sittings. It does so, during all stages of the proceedings. There is a court practice of preventing the dissemination of names where minors are involved. Otherwise, there are no restrictions, unless the court, rules otherwise if good cause is shown in particular cases.
C.5. It is doubtful how much these important Council of Europe instruments are widely known. Much more publicity should be given to them. Obviously, the first step towards their implementation is that the relative stake holders and the general public are made fully aware of the them.
C.6. Please refer to the answer to question C.4. Courts have no specific spokespersons. Traditionally, Maltese judges do not make statements to the press. However, there is no express prohibition for a judge to make such statements, provided that Article 28 of the Code of Ethics for Members of the Judiciary is not infringed. This rule states that:
“28. Members of the Judiciary shall not comment or grant interviews to the media, or speak in public on matters which are sub judice. Members of the Judiciary shall avoid communicating with the media and pronouncing themselves in public on matters which constitute a public controversy. In general, members of the Judiciary shall not seek publicity or the approval of the public or the media”
C.7. Cameras are not allowed in the courtrooms.
C.8. to C.13. Most of the queries raised in these various questions can be answered by reference to “The Malta Press Act” which appears as Chapter 248 of The Laws of Malta. A copy of this Act is enclosed as Appendix II.
The professional diligence and integrity of journalists is regulated by The Institute of Maltese Journalists, formerly known as the Malta Press Club. Its mission statement, refers to the enhancement of the character of the Maltese news media in accordance with the highest professional standards by providing a structure:
to enhance the ability of its members as professional journalists through the establishment of a continuous professional development scheme;
to achieve professional status for journalists;
to represent and defend the rights of journalists where freedom of information and the news media are concerned;
to provide opportunities for journalists to meet and exchange views and ideas;
to offer a range of services of professional and personal benefit to members.
The Malta Press Club is administered by a Council of Management and it operates through Commissions, Working Groups and Committees, amongst which, the Education and Training Working Group, as well as the Press Ethics Commission, can be mentioned. For more details please refer to Appendix III which reproduces the Code of Journalistic Ethics and the Rules of Procedure of the Malta Press Club.
ACCESSIBILITY, SIMPLIFICATION AND CLARITY OF THE LANGUAGE USED BY THE COURTS IN PROCEEDINGS AND DECISIONS
D.1. The vast majority of judicial decisions are delivered in the written form. Usually, they are very detailed, containing a careful exposition of the facts and the relevant applicable law even in straightforward cases. This method of work, as an absolute and ideal concept of justice, cannot be faulted. However, seen from the practical point of view, this practice has been identified as a cause which delays justice. It is being suggested that our courts could function more efficiently if judgments are more concise, provided that they still retain adequate judicial reasoning.
Today the vast majority of judgments are reserved, that is to say that they are delivered in writing, after the case is adjourned to a later date for that purpose. This system has also been identified as contributing to judicial delay. So, much consideration is being given to the introduction of the practice of giving judgment “ex tempore”; that is to say orally, as soon as the parties finalise their submissions. It is being suggested that written reserved judgments are to be resorted to only in the more important and/or complicated cases.
D.2. No such theoretical studies exist in Malta.
Judgments on line
Sentenzi Online is one of the services that falls under the eGovernment initiative. It is offered by the Ministry for Justice and Home Affairs such that more people will benefit from the use of information technology and communication services. This service brings together a collection of judgments given by the Courts of Justice of Malta from 1944 onwards. The researcher, in this collection, will find judgments of a certain interest and importance delivered by the Courts of Justice of Malta and Gozo.
This service is a very useful electronic research tool, thought to satisfy the requirements of Judiciaries, Lawyers, Notaries, Legal Procurators, Courts' Personnel, Law Students, Journalists and last but not least the Public in General. The service is free of charge, has unlimited use and presents no fees whatsoever to download copies of the judgments full text documents.
Sentenzi Online primarily offers four services:
· Selected Judgements
· Judgements Archive 2001 Onwards
· Judgements Last 12 Months
· Judgements Last 15 Days
Apart from final judgements, the Sentenzi Online system displays also partial judgements (i.e. sentenzi in parte). The types of judgements can be distinguished either:
a) from the Details screen; or,
b) from the Judgement document itself. At the end of each judgement document, there will be the judgement type (i.e. final judgement or partial judgement) printed. Please note that whilst all partial judgements will be visible, the feature which distinguishes them from the final judgements, will only be present for all those judgments entered after June 2003.
Sentenzi Online is offered on a 24 by 7 basis, i.e. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and can be read from anywhere in Malta and Gozo, and anywhere in the world as long as there is Internet access. This service compliments the Laws of Malta service that can also be read electronically from www.justice.gov.mt
We would like the system to fulfill people's requirements, so anyone who comes across any problems or shortfalls, is kindly asked to immediately notify the System Administrator.
This service includes all the judgments given from 1944 onwards. Judgments given from 1944 to 2000 have already been published in a collection of books called "Kollezzjoni ta' Decizjonijiet tal-Qrati Superjuri ta' Malta" (published by Bonavia Offset Printers). Currently there is an ongoing initiative where judgments of certain interest and importance, given from 2001 onwards, are being indexed as well.
Til to date it was not possible to publish the whole text of the judgments given from 1944 to 2000. Instead, we are offering a summary of key legal points taken. Such sentence is archived with reference to the main keywords, book volume number and page of the publication where one can find the judgment full text.
Please note that Judgments between 1967 and 1984 have not been published.
Judgements Archive 2001 Onwards
This archive holds all judgments given from the 1st of January 2001 onwards. Although this section can be viewed as a search utility, it is more intended to help lawyers in their practices, since it will give them immediate access for the judgments as soon as these are given. The archive includes all Courts decisions, Superior and Inferior, Civil and Criminal as well as those of the Civil Tribunals.
The elapsed time between when the judgment is given and the time when it is published on the net, depends solely on Courts' personnel. Each judgment is gathered in the archive a few minutes after the Deputy Registrar saves it on the core system. If the Court official fails to save the judgment for whatever reason, as a consequence this judgment will not be visible on the net.
This service offers the facility to conduct advanced searches amongst judgments records. It searches according to the criteria given to the system. The site also makes use of drop down lists (for further ease of use).
Judgements Last 12 Months
This section contains all the judgments given in the last 12 months. This service can be used once the judgment date is known and falls within the past 12 months parameter.
Judgements Last 15 Days
This service offers a collection of judgments given by the Courts of Justice and Tribunals in the past 15 days. This section has been thought of mainly with the journalists in mind. This service will help them report on the Courts operations. Moreover, this utility can also be used by the general public, which likes to keep abreast with the latest judgments given by the Court institution.
Whilst every effort is being made to ensure the correctness and integrity of the information published, as well as in their cataloging, there might be some mistakes due to the large volumes of information that will be stored on this site. Your feedback will be appreciated, whilst every suggestion to better the level of service given by the site will also be noted.
Comments and suggestions maybe addressed through the "Contact the Expert" page.
Civil Cases on the web is another eGovernment service offered by Ministry for Justice and Local Government so that more and more people will benefit from the advantages offered by information technology and communication.
Civil Cases on the web is a utility tool which provides electronic searches intended to serve the Judiciaries, Lawyers, Notaries, Court Personnel, Students, journalists and the public in general. The service is free of charge and with unlimited use.
The Civil Cases online system incorporates six services:
· Introduced Cases
· Pending Cases
· Cases closed during the past year
· Sitting Search
· Noticeboard List
· Court Deferrals/Adjournments
The Civil Cases online system is a service on the web which can be accessed twenty four hours a day and seven days a week. Moreover, this information can be accessed from anywhere in Malta and Gozo and abroad where Internet is provided.
The collection of the Civil Cases viewed from this site is:
· Introduced Cases (new cases)
· Pending Cases
· Cases closed during the past year
Introduced Cases (new cases)
New civil cases are continuously registered in any one of the registries of the Civil Courts in Malta and Gozo by legal representantives (lawyers or a legal procurators) or by any one of the parties (for cases presented at the Small Claims Tribunal). The new cases are then processed accordingly and assigned to a judiciary, which will later appoint the first sitting.
This service is a collection of new cases, which were introduced in the Civil Courts of Malta and Gozo which:
· have not yet been appointed a sitting; or
· have only been appointed the first sitting.
This service is a useful tool for Lawyers, Legal Procturators and the general public, which present a case to the Civil Courts, and may want to know in front of which Judiciary is the case going to be heard, and on which date.
This service comprises all those cases which are currently pending in front of the Civil Courts and Tribunals of Malta and Gozo. Therefore, all cases which have more than one sitting and have not been closed yet can be searched through this facility.
Other than case related details, like Case Reference, Court and Judiciary, one can also view information on the parties involved and the sittings linked to the case. From the sitting list, one has the facility to access the verbal of the required sitting, if this is available.
It is important to note that the Verbali shown in the Civil Cases website are linked with the sitting held after July 2002 onwards. Also, certain verbali cannot be viewed unless they are made public by the Courts' registries.
Cases closed during the past year
This service offers you the facility to search for any case that has been terminated within the past year. Throught this service it is possibile to view details like those offered by the Pending Cases service, described in the above paragraphs. Moreover, since the case will be terminated, other details will be available:
· the case taxation information;
· whether the case has been appealed or not.
For every sitting held, a list containing all the cases that are going to be heard during the day for the particular hall, called the sitting list, is attached to a noticeboard by each hall's entrance. These lists are attached before the sittings begin inorder to help and guide the general public.
The service offers the facility to search for the same list as shown on the Noticeboard.
If you are a lawyer or a legal representative, this is an ideal tool to search your daily sittings. The same service offers the facility to view the sitting list for each case shown on the site.
From this list one can also access the respective verbali. If you wish to know which verbali are shown on the site, please refer to Kawzi Pendenti section within this help page.
Court Deferrals / Adjournments
Sometimes Court Sittings, can be deferred from their original appointment date to another future date. This can happen well in advance of the actual sitting date with adequate notice, as much as can happen on the same day of the sitting. This service will be showing such deferrals thus helping to reduce inconvenience to the general public and/or legal representatives as much as possible.
By choosing any date from the calendar, the site shows whether the sitting has been deferred or not. This will make it possible to know whether one's case is still to be heard on the appointed day, or put off to another date, from the commodity of your house or office.
Contact the Expert
Any comments and suggestions can be submitted by using this page.
The Hall Usage service gives the facility to each and every person accessing the site to check which judiciary is operating in which hall, on any particular date. A monthly calendar is shown for the present month, together with other two links, one to view the calendar of the past month and another one to view the calendar of the next month. When choosing a day from the calendar, the site displays a page containing the list of all sittings for that particular day.
Any comments and suggestions can be submitted by using the "Contact the Expert" page.
23rd August, 1974
The full text of The Press Act, including the margin notes, can be viewed on the following page:-
ARRANGEMENT OF ACT
Part I. Preliminary 1-2
Part II. Press Offences 3-22
Part III. Actions arising from Press Offences 23-33
Part IV. Newspapers 34-41
Part V. Broadcasting Services 42-45
Part VI. Journalistic Freedoms 46-47
Part VII. Miscellaneous 48-53
1. The title of this Act is Press Act.
2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires –
"broadcast" means the transmission by wire or over the air, including that by satellite, in encoded or unencoded form of words or of visual images, whether or not such words or images are in fact received by any person;
"editor" means the person responsible for the publication of anyprinted matter and in respect of a newspaper or broadcasting service includes any person complying with the provisions of article 35;
"Malta" has the same meaning as is assigned to it by article 124 of the Constitution of Malta;
"newspaper" means any paper containing news, advertisements, intelligence, occurrences, or any comments or observations thereon, printed for sale or to be distributed free or in any other manner, and published daily or periodically;
"person" includes a body of persons, whether it has a distinct
legal personality or not;
"printed matter" means any writing printed in typographical characters or by lithography or any similar device or process on paper or other substance, as well as any bill, placard or poster containing any sign or script written, printed, painted, embossed or in any other manner impressed, and includes any record, tape, film or other means whereby words or visual images may be heard, perceived or reproduced;
"publication" means any act whereby any printed matter is or may be communicated to or brought to the knowledge of any person or whereby any words or visual images are broadcast;
"publisher" means a person who owns an enterprise publishing a newspaper or who holds a broadcasting licence and includes any person who owns facilities for the production or reproduction of any printed matter;
"Registrar" means such person as the Prime Minister may, from time to time by notice in the Government Gazette, designate as Press Registrar for the purposes of this Act.
3. The offences mentioned in this Part of this Act are committed by means of the publication or distribution in Malta of printed matter, from whatsoever place such matter may originate, or by means of any broadcast.
4. Whosoever, by any means mentioned in article 3, shall incite others to take away the life or the liberty of the President of Malta or of any Minister, shall for the mere incitement be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding nine years and to a fine (multa) not exceeding five hundred liri.
5. (1) Whosoever, by any means mentioned in article 3, shall impute ulterior motives to the acts of the President of Malta, or shall insult, revile or bring into hatred or contempt or excite disaffection against, the person of the President of Malta, shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months and to a fine (multa) not exceeding two hundred liri.
(2) Whosoever, by any means mentioned in article 3, shall insult or show contempt towards the National Flag of Malta shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months and to a fine (multa) not exceeding two hundred liri.
6. Whosoever, by any means mentioned in article 3, shall threaten, insult, or expose to hatred, persecution or contempt, a person or group of persons because of their race, creed, colour, nationality, sex disability as defined in article 2 of the Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act, or national or ethnic origin shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months and to a fine (multa).
7. Whosoever, by any means mentioned in article 3, directly or indirectly, or by the use of equivocal expressions, shall injure public morals or decency shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine (multa) or to both such imprisonment and fine.
8. Whosoever, by any means mentioned in article 3, shall divulge any secret matter confided to him by reason of his profession or calling, shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine (multa) or to both such imprisonment and fine.
9. (1) Whosoever shall maliciously, by any means mentioned in article 3, spread false news which is likely to alarm public opinion, or disturb public good order or the public peace, or to create a commotion among the public or among certain classes of the public, shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine (multa) or to both such imprisonment and fine:
Provided that, if any disturbance ensues in consequence of the offence, or if the offence has contributed to the occurrence of any disturbance, the offender shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than one month but not exceeding six months and to a fine (multa).
(2) For the purposes of this article, malice shall be presumed in default of evidence showing that, prior to publication, the accused took reasonable measures to verify the truthfulness of the news.
10. Whosoever, by any means mentioned in article 3, shall, through the omission of ordinary diligence, spread false news which is likely to alarm public opinion, or to disturb public good order or the public peace, shall be liable on conviction to a fine (multa).
11. Save as otherwise provided in this Act, whosoever shall, by any means mentioned in article 3, libel any person, shall be liable on conviction –
(a) if the libel contains specific imputations against such person tending to injure his character and reputation, or to expose him to public ridicule or contempt, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine (multa) or to both such imprisonment and fine;
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding one month or to a fine (multa).
12. (1) In any action for a defamatory libel under article 11, the truth of the matters charged may be enquired into if the accused, in the preliminary stage of the proceedings, assumes full responsibility for the alleged libel and declares in his defence that he wishes to prove the truth of the facts attributed by him to the aggrieved party:
Provided that the truth of the matters charged may be enquired into only if the person aggrieved –
(a) is a public officer or servant and the facts attributed to him refer to the exercise of his functions; or
(b) is a candidate for a public office and the facts attributed to him refer to his honesty, ability or competency to fill that office; or
(c) habitually exercises a profession, an art or a trade, and the facts attributed to him refer to the exercise of such profession, art or trade; or
(d) takes an active part in politics and the facts attributed to him refer to his so taking part in politics; or
(e) occupies a position of trust in a matter of general public interest:
Provided further that the truth of the matters charged may not be enquired into if such matters refer to the domestic life of the aggrieved party.
(2) Where the truth of the matters charged is enquired into in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this article -
(a) if the truth of the matters charged is substantially proved, the defendant shall not be liable to punishment if the court is satisfied that the proof of the truth has been for the public benefit and he shall be entitled to recover from the complainant or plaintiff the costs sustained by him in any criminal or civil proceedings:
Provided that the proof of the truth of the matters charged shall not exempt the defendant from punishment for any insult, imputation or allegation which the court shall consider to have been unnecessary in attributing to the person aggrieved the facts the proof of the truth whereof shall have been allowed;
(b) if the truth of the matters charged is not substantially proved, the accused shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine (multa) not exceeding five hundred liri or to both such imprisonment and fine.
12A. In proceedings instituted under this Act it shall be a defence for the editor or the publisher to prove that the information published consisted of an accurate report of a speech made at an important public event by an identified person who knew or could have reasonably known or expected that the content of that speech was to be published in a newspaper or in a broadcasting medium and that the publication of the said speech was reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.
13. Whosoever, by any means mentioned in article 3, publishes or threatens to publish any matter touching any other person with intent to extort money or money’s worth or any other advantage, shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years and to a fine (multa) not exceeding five hundred liri.
14. Save as otherwise provided in this Act, whosoever shall, by any means mentioned in article 3, directly instigate the perpetration of an offence shall, for the mere fact of such instigation, be liable –
(a) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months and to a fine (multa) in the case of an offence liable to a punishment higher than imprisonment for three years;
(b) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months and to a fine (multa) in the case of an offence liable to imprisonment for a term exceeding one year but not exceeding three years;
(c) to a fine (multa) not exceeding two hundred liri or to detention in the case of any other offence.
15. Whosoever, by any means mentioned in article 3, shall justify or excuse the perpetration of any crime shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine (multa).
16. Whosoever, by any means mentioned in article 3, shall directly incite any person to disobey the law shall, for the mere incitement, be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.
17. Where the instigation or incitement by any means mentioned in article 3 to commit any offence has produced its effect, the persons responsible for the instigation or incitement shall be liable to the punishment established for the offence so committed diminished by one degree.
18. If any person imports into Malta any printed matter being a copy of any matter which has previously been knowingly sent for publication abroad and in respect of which, if it had been published in Malta, such person would have been guilty of an offence under this Part, such person shall be liable to punishment as if the publication had taken place in Malta.
19. Any person who knowingly sells or offers for sale or distributes or imports for sale or distribution any printed matter whereby any offence against this Act is committed shall be deemed to be an accomplice and shall be liable to the same punishment as the principal offender.
20. (1) In the case of a conviction under article 11, and if so requested by the injured party, the court shall in the judgment order, in the case of a newspaper that in a subsequent issue thereof not later than the next but one, and in the case of a broadcasting medium that on the day immediately following that on which judgment is given, the judgment itself or a comprehensive summary thereof be published or broadcast, as the case may require, in the same language in which the offence was committed, free of charge; and if at the time of the judgment or immediately thereafter the newspaper has ceased publication or the broadcasting medium has ceased to operate, or in the case of any other printed matter, the court shall, in the judgment or in a subsequent order, order that such summary be published or broadcast at the expense of the party convicted in another newspaper or on another medium within a period not exceeding one month.
(2) In default of compliance with any such order the party convicted shall be liable to pay to the complainant a penalty not exceeding five hundred liri.
(3) The action for the recovery of such penalty shall be exercised by the complainant before the court making the order.
21. (1) Any person whose actions or intentions have been misrepresented or who has been subjected to an attack on his honour, dignity or reputation, or to an intrusion into his private life by means of or in a newspaper or in any broadcast shall be entitled to demand and to have published forthwith, free of charge, in the same newspaper or on the same broadcasting medium, as the case may require, a statement by way of contradiction or explanation:
Provided that this article shall not apply where the misrepresentation occurs in a broadcast of a political nature which is part of a scheme approved by the Broadcasting Authority if the misrepresentation may be contradicted or explained in another broadcast which is part of the same scheme either by the person whose actions or intentions have been misrepresented or by another person entitled to take part in such other broadcast in representation of the party to which the person whose actions or intentions have been misrepresented belongs:
Provided further that no person shall be required to publish a statement by way of contradiction or explanation which is defamatory, or which is not written in the language of the newspaper, or in any of the languages used by the broadcasting medium, where it is requested that it should be published.
(2) In the case of a newspaper, a reply in terms of subarticle (1) shall be published as a separate article and without being interpolated with any comments or other material that does not form part of the reply, with equal prominence as the publication in respect of which the right of reply is exercised and it shall not be lawful to shorten or edit the reply in such a manner as to prejudice the effective exercise of the right of reply under this article. The said statement shall be published not later than the second issue of the newspaper following the receipt of the request:
Provided that when the right of reply is availed of in respect of a publication in a newspaper published at intervals of at least one week, the said statement shall be published in the issue immediately following the receipt of the request if such request is received at least four days before the publication of the said issue and not later than the second issue following the receipt of the request in all other cases.
(3) In the case of a broadcast, a statement in terms of subarticle (1) shall be broadcast not later than the second day following that on which the request is received; it shall be broadcast in a way and at the time that it reaches as much as possible the same audience and with the same prominence, and the time allowed shall be a time which is twice the time of the broadcast or part of the broadcast complained of but which is not less than ninety seconds and not more than one hundred and eighty seconds.
(4) An editor of a newspaper or the manager or other person responsible for the broadcasting medium who neglects to comply with any of the foregoing provisions of this article shall be liable on conviction to a fine (multa) of a minimum of two hundred liri and in the case of such conviction the court shall in its judgement make such orders upon the party convicted as it deems appropriate as to ensure respect of the right of reply granted by this article. In default of compliance with any such order the party convicted shall be liable to pay the complainant a penalty not exceeding five hundred liri which shall be enforceable by the same court.
(5) The publication of any statement as required by this article or any punishment thereunder shall not be a bar to the exercise of any other action under this Act.
(6) This article shall not apply to any publication mentioned in article 33 in cases where no action lies under that article in respect of such publication.
(7) The right of reply under this article shall lapse if the person demanding such right shall not have claimed it within one month from the date of the publication of the newspaper or of the broadcast in respect of which the said right may be exercised.
22. Where any act committed by any means mentioned in article 3 constitutes in terms of the Criminal Code or of any other law an offence which is not provided for in this Act or which is punishable with a higher punishment than that imposed by this Act, such Code or other law shall apply.
ACTIONS ARISING FROM PRESS OFFENCES
23. Criminal proceedings for any offence under Part II and civil proceedings under Part III of this Act may be instituted against each of the following persons:
(a) the author, if he shall have composed the work for the purpose of its being published, or if he shall have consented thereto;
(b) the editor;
or, if the said persons cannot be identified,
(c) the publisher.
24. It shall be no defence for any of the persons mentioned in the last preceding article to prove that the writing is a copy, or an extract, or abridgement, or a translation of another writing which has been otherwise printed and published.
24A. The criminal and the civil actions mentioned in article 23 may also be instituted against any person who shall have made a public speech in circumstances where he was aware or could have reasonably been aware or have expected that the content of his speech was going to be published in a newspaper or a broadcasting medium and in fact is in whole or in part so published.
25. (1) The persons mentioned in article 23 shall be deemed to have acted knowingly, in default of evidence to the contrary.
(2) The editor and, where applicable, the publisher shall be deemed to have acted knowingly if, being aware of the contents of the newspaper, broadcast or other printed matter, as the case may be, at any time before its publication, they did not prevent such publication.
26. The persons mentioned in article 23, who shall not have acted knowingly, shall be liable to the punishments for contraventions.
27. Criminal proceedings are independent of civil proceedings.
Both proceedings may be instituted at the same time or separately.
28. (1) In the case of defamation, by any means mentioned in article 3, the object of which is to take away or injure the reputation of any person, the competent civil court may, in addition to the damages which may be due under any law for the time being in force in respect of any actual loss, or injury, grant to the person libelled a sum not exceeding five thousand liri.
(2) In any case to which this article applies, the defendant may, in mitigation of damages, prove that he made or offered to make an apology to the plaintifff or such defamation before the commencement of the action for damages or, as soon afterwards as he had an opportunity of doing so in case the action shall have been commenced before there was an opportunity of making or offering such apology:
Provided that the defendant shall not be allowed to make suchproof in mitigation of damages if he has raised the plea of justification in terms of article 12.
29. Whosoever, by any means mentioned in article 3, shall publish any statement which he knows or with due diligence could have known to be false and which is likely to damage any business concern or other property, shall be liable to pay, in addition to the damages which may be due under any law for the time being in force in respect of any actual loss or injury, a sum not exceeding five thousand liri to be fixed by the competent court.
30. It shall be lawful to take action in respect of each and every imputation in the same libel, and the persons concerned in the libel may be sued either jointly or severally:
Provided that the amount of damages or penalties recoverable in regard to the same libel shall not exceed five thousand liri.
31. (1) Criminal proceedings for any offence under articles 11 and 21 may not be instituted except on the complaint of the injured party or of the persons mentioned in article 542 of the Criminal Code.
(2) All provisions of the Criminal Code relating to proceedings on private complaint, including in particular the provisions of article 373 of that Code, shall, so far as applicable, apply to proceedings on private complaint under this article:
Provided that the provisions of paragraph (d) of article 374 of the Criminal Code shall not apply in respect of criminal proceedings instituted in terms of the foregoing provisions of this article after the complainant has confirmed his complaint on oath before the court and the absence of the complainant from the court at any stage of the proceedings shall not be deemed to constitute the abandonment of the proceedings or the withdrawal of the complaint if the said absence is subsequent to the said confirmation of the complaint on oath by the complainant.
32. Criminal action for any offence under Part II of this Act and limitation of the civil action under articles 28 and 29 shall be barred by prescription after the lapse of one year.
33. No action shall lie in respect of the following publications:
(a) publications made in pursuance of an Act of Parliament or by authority of the President of Malta or of the House of Representatives;
(b) publications consisting of communications between public officers, or between such officers and contractors of the public service or officials of public corporations, reports of inquiries held in terms of any law, or statements by public officers that are made in good faith in the interests of national security, territorial integrity, public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime or for the protection of health or
(c) publications of bona fide reports of debates of the House of Representatives, provided the relevant part of the debate is published, and the defence of any person against whom any charge is made is not suppressed or maliciously or negligently curtailed or altered;
(d) publications of reports of any proceedings in a court of justice in Malta, provided such reports are fair reports of the proceedings and the publication of such reports or proceedings is not prohibited by law or by the court:
Provided that it shall not be lawful to publish -
(a) anything which, by article 994 of the Code of Organization and Civil Procedure, is forbidden to be used or produced, or
(b) any report of the proceedings in any case of defamation, in which evidence of the truth of the matters charged is not allowed by law.
34. Anyone who is resident in Malta and who has attained the age of eighteen years may edit a newspaper.
35. (1) Whosoever is the editor or the publisher of a newspaper shall, within ten days of his becoming editor or publisher, as the case may be, produce to the Registrar a declaration containing –
(a) in the case of the editor -
(i) his name and surname, identity card number, age and place of residence; and
(ii) the title and nature of the newspaper, and the intervals at which it is proposed to be published;
(b) in the case of a publisher -
(i) if the publisher is an individual, his name, surname, age, place of residence and identity card number;
(ii) if the publisher is a company or other association of persons, its name, address, the particulars mentioned in sub-paragraph (i) in respect of its judicial representative, and, where applicable, its company or partnership registration number;
(iii) the title and nature of the newspaper and the intervals at which it is proposed to be published; and
(iv) the name and address of the press where the printing is to take place;
and both the editor and the publisher of any newspaper shall keep the Registrar at all times informed of his place of residence and shall communicate to the Registrar any change in his place of residence within ten days of such change.
(2) If any person fails to comply with any of the provisions of subarticle (1) he shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine (multa).
36. (1) The Registrar shall keep a register of newspapers and enter therein the particulars referred to in article 35 and any changes thereto, and shall make such other entries therein and such alterations thereto as may be appropriate or as may be prescribed by regulations made under this Act.
(2) Any person may inspect the register at all reasonable times during normal office hours and may also, against payment of the appropriate fee, require a certified copy of any entry in or any extract from the register kept under this article.
(3) The Registrar shall cancel the registration of a newspaper -
(a) if he is so requested in writing by the editor thereof; or
(b) if, in the case of a newspaper published at intervals not exceeding one month, such newspaper is not published for a period exceeding three months, and, in the case of any other newspaper, if it is not published for a period exceeding one year.
37. Every editor of a newspaper shall deliver, free of charge, to the Registrar, the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police a copy of every issue of such newspaper, not later than the day following that of its publication, and in default thereof, he shall be liable to a fine (ammenda) of one lira for each copy not so delivered.
38. Repealed by Act X.1996.23.
39. Where any false statement is made in any of the particulars required under article 35 the offender shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.
40. (1) Criminal prosecution for any offence under this Partshall be barred by prescription after the lapse of three months.
(2) Nevertheless criminal prosecution for the offence mentioned in article 39 shall be barred after the lapse of one year.
41. The provisions of this Part shall not apply to any periodical publication published by, or by order or leave of or for the use of, the Government of Malta or any of its Ministries or Departments or the House of Representatives.
42. Every holder of a broadcasting licence in Malta shall appoint a person having the qualifications listed in article 34 to be the editor of, and be editorially responsible for, the broadcasting service provided in terms of the said licence.
43. The provisions of articles 35, 36, 38, 39 and 40 shall mutatis mutandis apply to editors of broadcasting services and to broadcasting licencees as they apply to editors of newspapers and to newspapers respectively.
44. Editors of broadcasting services shall have the same duties and obligations under this Act as are by the same imposed on editors of newspapers.
45. For the purpose of this Part the term "broadcasting licence" shall have the same meaning as is attributed to it in the Broadcasting Act.
46. No court shall require any person mentioned in article 23 to disclose, nor shall such person be guilty of contempt of court for refusing to disclose, the source of information contained in a newspaper or broadcast for which he is responsible unless it is established to the satisfaction of the court that such disclosure is necessary in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, or for the prevention of disorder or crime or for the protection of the interests of justice:
Provided that the court shall not order such disclosure unless it is also satisfied that in the particular circumstances of the case the need for investigation by the court outweighs the need of the media to protect its sources, due regard being taken of the importance of the role of the media in a democratic society:
Provided further that nothing in this article shall be interpreted as exempting any person mentioned in article 23 from proving the truth of any facts attributed by him in terms of article 12.
47. (1) The Government shall establish procedures to give representatives of the press the information which helps them fulfil
their public tasks.
(2) Subarticle (1) shall not apply in the following cases:
(a) where such information could foil, impede, delay or jeopardise the appropriate process of pending legal proceedings or where Government or another public authority would be legally entitled to refuse to grant such information in a court or other tribunal established by law;
(b) where the granting of such information would entail the disclosure of information received by Government in confidence;
(c) where such information would violate an overriding public interest or a private interest warranting protection;
(d) where the information concerns matters related to national security or public safety;
(e) when the gathering of the information requested would place a disproportionate burden on the public administration.
(3) It shall not be lawful for Government to issue general instructions that prohibit the giving of information to any newspaper or licensed broadcasting service holding a particular view or to any specified newspaper or licensed broadcasting service.
48. Every decision of the Court of Magistrates in respect of an offence under this Act may, in all cases, be appealed against by the Attorney General or by the complainant, as the case may be, and by the party convicted.
49. Where any offence under this Act is committed by a body of persons, every person who, at the time of the commission of the offence, was a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of such body of persons or was purporting to act in such capacity shall be guilty of that offence and shall be liable on conviction to the punishment for that offence unless he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge and that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.
50. It shall be lawful for the Prime Minister to make, and when made, to amend or repeal, regulations for carrying out the provisions of this Act and in particular, but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, to prescribe anything that is to be or may be prescribed under this Act.
51. (1) Every newspaper published in Malta shall publish the name of its publisher and the date on which it was printed.
(2) It shall be lawful for the Registrar to demand and obtain information from any person concerning the ownership of a newspaper published in Malta or of a company or other association of persons that is or at any time was, directly or indirectly, the owner of such a newspaper or with regard to the transfer of shares or control of any such company.
(3) Information demanded by the Registrar in terms of subarticle (2) shall be given within ten days of communication of the demand to the person from whom the information is required, and shall be included by the Registrar in the register of newspapers.
(4) Whosoever shall contravene the provisions of this article
shall on conviction be liable to a fine (multa).
52. In any proceedings before a court, or before a tribunal or board established by law, a certificate issued and signed by the Registrar showing who is or at any time was, the editor or the publisher of a newspaper or a broadcasting service shall constitute proof of its content unless the contrary is proved.
53. The provisions of the Press Act as in force prior to the coming into force of the Press (Amendment) Act, 1996 shall continue to apply in respect of any civil or criminal action, right of action, right or obligation relating to or arising out of any publication made prior to the coming into force of that Act:
Provided that the provisions of the proviso to article 31(2), of article 46 and of article 52 as introduced by the Press (Amendment) Act, 1996 shall come into force with immediate effect.
Institute of Maltese Journalists
Code of Journalistic Ethics
Self-Regulation and Competence
1. The Malta Press Club has deemed it essential that all those persons who are engaged in the dissemination of information through the various channels of communication should regulate their own behaviour and accordingly it is publishing this Code of Ethics for the guidance and discipline of all those who are engaged directly or indirectly in that activity and that profession.
2. In order to make as effective as possible that regulation, The Malta Press Club shall set up, and have at all times, a Press Ethics Commission, which shall be competent to consider any complaints made to it against any journalist for any alleged breach of ethical behaviour outlined in this Code.
3. The Commission shall draw up and publish an outline of its Rules of Procedure and shall in all cases follow the principles of Justice in its proceedings.
4. The following cases shall be considered to be in breach of ethical behaviour:
a. Whenever the confidentiality of the source of information, as requested, is not respected.
b. Whenever a source of information is divulged without obtaining an explicit permission so to do.
c. Whenever any information supplied is published without verifying its veracity and accuracy, as far as it is possible.
d. Whenever it is established that a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distorted report is published, no prompt and prominent correction is made.
e. Whenever direct quotations are made and these are inaccurate or unreasonably edited or incomplete.
f. Whenever undue advantage is taken of the ignorance or lack of judgement of the source of information, and this source of information is not made aware of the possible effects of what has been divulged.
g. Whenever commissions or requests are accepted to give undeserved publicity.
h. Whenever editorial favours are promised in return for advertisements.
i. Whenever in any publication no respect is shown for private and family life. Exceptions to this rule are possible if the information refers to a public figure and it is relevant to his public life or functions.
j. Whenever use is made of deceit, trickery, intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit in order to obtain information on private matters or in deliberate abuse of the right to privacy.
k. Whenever use is made of hidden cameras and or microphones, false identity or other abnormal means of entrapment.
l. Whenever an interview is conceded, what the interviewee has expressed shall always be reproduced in good faith. Editing shall only occur when the interviewee gives his consent to the edited version.
m. Whenever false or misleading or distorted reports are published.
n. Whenever no clear distinction is made between fact on one hand, and conjecture and comment on the other.
o. Whenever material produced by others is set out as if it is one's own and no acknowledgement is made that it is the work of others.
Reporting of crimes and court procedures
5. In reporting accident and crimes consideration should always be shown to the victims and the next-of-kin especially in filming or the taking of pictures and in the publication of certain details which disturb or hurt and which are not necessary for the exercise. The publication of certain names connected with the events should be avoided if they are potentially harmful to the victims and their relatives.
6. Any publication, which involves the naming of minors, is prohibited.
7. All reports of crimes and court proceedings are to be strictly factual and a clear distinction should at all times be made and explained between the facts and the expression of opinion.
8. Once it is decided to report on any matter connected with judicial proceedings, that reporting shall be complete in the sense that both the beginning and the conclusion of those proceedings shall be given and treated with the same prominence.
9. It is prohibited to indulge in any shape or form, in any media in an exercise of the 'character assassination' of any person.
Commands and Impositions.
10. It is prohibited for any person who is an editor or is a journalist placed in a managerial position over other journalists to order or impose any journalistic activity to which a conscientious objection is made.
11. Every journalist is obliged to respect minors under the age of eighteen. Except in matters connected with Sports, no minor is to be interviewed unless the preventive permission of one of his parents, guardian or tutor is obtained.
12. Whenever, after due process the Commission finds that a journalist has violated one or more of the rules of this Code of Ethics, it may impose any one or more of the following sanctions in accordance with the gravity of the offence:
c. grave censure
In appropriate cases, the decision may be given whatever publicity the Commission deems fit. In all cases, the Commission shall also communicate its decision to the Organizational Head of the journalist concerned.
RULES OF PROCEDURE
1. The Press Ethics Commission is nominated by the Council of The Malta Press Club and shall consist of a Chairman and six members.
2. The Chairman and at least one of the members shall belong to the legal profession.
3. The Commission shall hold office for two years but any one of the members is eligible to be nominated again after the term of office has ended.
4. A secretary to the Commission shall be nominated by the Council after consulting the Chairman of the Commission. The Secretary shall carry out such administrative duties as the Chairman shall direct. He is not entitled to take part in the discussions of the Commission and shall have no right to vote.
5. The Commission shall meet whenever this is necessary and shall be convened in writing by the Secretary as directed by the Chairman. However there shall normally be a monthly meeting on a given day of each month as shall be established by the Commission from time to time.
6. The quorum for a valid meeting shall be of four members and if the Chairman is not present the members shall proceed to nominate one of them to act as Chairman for that meeting.
7. When a meeting arrives at a disciplinary decision and the Chairman or the other member of the Commission who has a legal qualification is not present that decision shall be held over to be reported to the Chairman. If the decision does not meet with his approval he shall as soon as may be convene a meeting to explain his dissent and the decision reached after this shall be the decision of the Commission.
8. Each member has a vote including the Chairman, who also has a casting vote in case of a tie.
9. Decisions taken shall be registered in the Minutes which shall also indicate the votes cast for and against without indicating the names of the voters. Any abstentions shall also be recorded.
10. Complaints against bona fide journalists alleging breach of Journalistic Ethics can be made to the Commission by any person who considers himself to be injured by the breach. Complaints shall be addressed to the Chairman or the secretary and if they are received by the Council of The Malta Press Club these shall be immediately redirected to the Chairman or the secretary without delay.
11. Complaints shall be in writing and duly signed by the person aggrieved or by a person charged to act in his behalf. The complaint shall be accompanied by a copy of the impugned writing or transcript of the broadcast, or by a film or video as the case may be.
12. Complaints shall be made within the period of one month from the date of the publication of the alleged breach. The secretary shall acknowledge receipt of every complaint.
13. The Commission shall at its first meeting after receiving the complaint examine prima facie the contents of the same and establish whether the case can be heard on the first available date. If the Commission considers that additional documentary or other essential information is necessary before it can proceed with a hearing, it shall first request the same from the complainant and shall only fix a date for the hearing when the documentation or information requested has been supplied.
14. When the case is set down to be heard, a copy of the complaint and all the documentation shall be forwarded to the journalist against whom the complaint has been made. The journalist may, if he so wish send to the Commission any written on the case but he is not obliged to do so.
15. On the date set for the hearing of the complaint, the Commission shall hear the complainant and his witnesses if any and shall then hear the journalist and his witnesses if any. Both the complainant and the journalist may be assisted by any other trusted person.
16. The proceedings shall be conducted by the Chairman who shall rule on any point of procedure which may arise.
17. The Commission shall in its deliberations and decisions observe the principles of Justice. The normal rules of procedure shall, as much as possible, guide the proceedings.
18. If the complainant fails to appear for the hearing and his absence is not deemed to be justified, the
Commission shall not take any further notice of the complaint. If the journalist who is called for the hearing fails to appear and his absence is deemed to be unjustified the Commission may decide to proceed with the hearing in absentia.
19. The proceedings of the Commission shall be conducted in the Maltese Language unless the journalist accused of a breach who is not a Maltese citizen requests that the English Language be used in his case.
20. The Minutes of the res gestae of the Commission may be kept in English unless the Commission decides otherwise as it deems necessary, from time to time.
21. The Secretary shall reply to any correspondence received in the same language which is used by the correspondent.
22. The Commission shall begin the proceedings when the complainant and the journalist are present for the first meeting, offer to the parties the possibility of acting as a mediator in order to reach between them an amicable settlement of the dispute.
23. If the parties agree to accept the mediation, a member of the Commission shall be chosen by the Chairman to act as a mediator. The Chairman shall privately consult the parties and his choice shall be made in accordance with their wishes.
24. When the mediation offer is accepted the case will be adjourned sine die and will be reconvened by the Chairman following the report to him by the mediator as to whether a settlement has been reached or the case has to be considered by the Commission.
25. When the Commission decides that a breach has been committed it shall condemn the transgressor and inflict one or more of the sanctions contained in the Code so as to reflect the gravity of the offence.
26. The decisions of the Commission shall in all cases be communicated to the complainant, the journalist accused of the breach and the Head of the Organization in which he works, and the Chairman of The Malta Press Club.
27. The Secretary shall during the month of January draw up a concise report of the workings of the Commission during the preceding calendar year. The report shall be signed by the Chairman and the Secretary, and shall be sent to the Council of The Malta Press Club.