by Dr Renè Darmanin – Junior Associate
A few minutes ago, Parliament enacted Act X of 2020, by which several amendments to the Public Health Act – Chapter 465 of the Laws of Malta were implemented. This article intends to highlight the most prominent amendments introduced by such enactment.
Through this enactment, it was clarified that the Superintendent of Public Health was and still is empowered to prescribe any matter deemed fit in order to mitigate or prevent any disease and to provide for any other issue related to any order issued by the Superintendent including those issues related to the suspension of any time limits including but not limited to legal or judicial time limits, prescription periods and any peremptory time limits provided for in any law.
Such enactment provides also important information regarding the prosecution of any person who is charged with breaching any order given by the Superintendent including those orders related to mandatory quarantine, the closure of public places as well as to the closure of non-essential retail outlets and services.
According to such enactment, such offenders are to be charged before the Commissioner of Justice. The police shall by an order in writing summon the alleged offender to appear before a Commissioner of Justice on the day and at the time specified in the summons, provided that the person charged shall be afforded reasonable time within which to prepare his defence.
On conviction by the Commissioner of Justice, any persons found in breach of the said orders issued by the Superintendent of Public Health shall be liable to a penalty of between one thousand euro (€1, 000) and ten thousand euro (€10,000), depending on the breach.
When the person charged is a person not habitually resident in Malta, there are two scenarios: the first scenario is when the person is not contesting the charges and the second scenario when the said person is contesting the charges.
When the offender is not contesting the charges, the penalty is to be in its minimum through electronic means and without any proceedings before the Commissioner of Justice. Such payment is to be made through credit card or by means of a bank transfer within twelve hours from the time when the said person is notified of the charge. The Executive Police shall have the power to detain the said person until payment is made.
With regards to the second scenario, i.e. when the person who is not habitually resident in Malta is contesting the charges or where no payment is made, said person shall be charged in accordance with the provisions of the Public Health Act.
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