The constitutional court upheld a judgment presented last year by a judge who had ruled that the law which establishes Industrial Tribunal was unconstitutional. It was established that the law establishing the Industrial Tribunal did not guarantee independence and impartiality. The constitutional court, presided by Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri and judges Giannino Caruana Demajo and Noel Cuschieri confirmed the judgment handed by Madam Justice Anna Felice in the first court.
The constitutional court concluded that certain articles in the law breached the principle of fair hearing. It said the court had reached its conclusion based on the following considerations:
– That the chairpersons and members of the tribunal can be easily dismissed by the Prime Minister or the Minister, according to the case, in such a way that they cannot be regarded to enjoy the level of independence required by the tribunal;
– That in cases involving the government one of the members of the tribunal had to be a representative of the government, and this went against the right to a fair hearing;
– That it had become standard practice for the tribunal to seek legal advice without informing the parties, denying them the opportunity to criticise the advice;
– That that fact that the law only granted the right of appeal on legal points but did not provide for appeal in the case of industrial disputes, added to the fact that the right to a fair hearing was not sufficient, was also in violation of the right to a fair hearing.
Amendments to the law to strengthen the guarantees of independence and impartiality and remove practices adopted throughout the years which were considered to impinge on the right to a fair hearing are currently underway.