On the 13th of March 2020, as a precautionary measure against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Superintendent of Public Health, being the person legally responsible for public health in Malta, has, through the publication of Legal Notice 65 of 2020, ordered the closure of the Courts of Malta as well as the Court Registry for an indefinite term commencing on the 16th of March 2020. In an attempt to limit the possibly hazardous and unnecessary gathering of large groups of persons, this order establishes the closure of all courts, regardless of their competence and jurisdiction, as well as the closure of all boards, tribunals, commissions, committees and other entities before which any proceedings are heard or in front of which procedures subject to legal or administrative time limits for filing of any act are taken.
Furthermore, on the same day the Superintendent of Public Health has, through Legal Notice 61 of 2020, ordered the suspension of all Legal Times (imposed by law) and Judicial Times (imposed by the court). This legal notice is aimed at ensuring that persons will not have their legal rights prejudiced due to the closure of the Courts and Court Registry. This is a matter of particular importance due to the fact that legal terms for filing of acts are considered to be matters of public order and the non-abidance of these legal terms for non-justifiable reasons could lead to the restriction or loss of one's legal rights. Thereby, in order to safeguard the legal rights of all persons, all running legal and judicial times have been suspended. The suspension shall last until seven days following the repeal of the closure of the Court and Court Registry through notice in the Government Gazette.
Nevertheless, and by means of an exception to the general rules considered above, our Courts have been authorised to order the opening of their registry and/or hear any case if they consider this to be necessary in the public interest. This exception recognises the essential role played by our courts by allowing persons to file acts and request the protection of the court or the continuation of proceedings in urgent cases.
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