In exercise of the powers conferrerd by article 4(6) of thc Attorney General Ordinance, the Attorney General, with the concurrence of the Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government, has drawn up the following Code of Ethics for Advocates and legal Procurators at the Office of the Attorney General Agency which substitutes the Code of Ethics for Advocates and legal Procurators at the Office of the Attorney General published by Notice number 90 in the Government Gazette of the 27th January, 2017:
Code of Ethics for Advocates and Legal Procurators in the Attorney General’s Office
Objectives and Nature of Activity
- The Advocates and Legal Procurators at the Office of the Attorney General shall perform their functions for the protection of the public interest through the objective application of the law. They shall contribute to ensuring that the rule of law is respected and that the administration of justice is carried out by appropriate, fair and efficient means at all its stages.
- Prosecutors are essential agents in the administration of justice and they shall at all times maintain the honour and dignity of their profession.
- Advocates and Legal Procurators at the Office of the Attorney General, when performing prosecution duties should act on behalf of society and in the public interest in order to respect and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in particular as these are protected in the Constitution of Malta and the European Convention on Human Rights and through the case law of the Courts of Malta and of the European Court of Human Rights.
- In their work Advocates and Legal Procurators at the Office of the Attorney General must act:
- with independence of judgement, and
- according to their convictions on the interpretation of the law.
- Prosecutors must act with independence and autonomy. Prosecutors must decide to initiate or pursue a prosecution only on the basis of well-founded evidence that they reasonably believe to be reliable and admissible and to provide a reasonable chance to lead to a conviction.
- Prosecutors shall act objectively and shall take due consideration to the situation of the suspect, of victims and of all relevant circumstances irrespective of whether these are to the advantage or disadvantage of the suspect. They shall keep all documents and information in their possession confidential unless their role or the interests of justice require otherwise.
Cooperation with public institutions involved in the administration of criminal justice
Prosecutors shall cooperate with the Police, with the Courts, with the legal profession and with other public agencies and institutions in order to ensure the fairness and the effectiveness of prosecutions.
The Advocates and Legal Procurators at the Office Of the Attorney General should commit themselves, when asked, to reconcile legal differences that may arise from time to time between different branches of the public administration involved in the administration of criminal justice
Autonomy, Independence and Transparency
- In the event of disagreement on legal issues between an Advocate or Legal Procurator who is leading a prosecution and his superior, that Advocate or Legal Procurator may that the matter be referred to the Attorney General in order to give a decision in writing.
- In cases of radical disagreement with the decision of the Attorney General, the Advocate or Legal Procurator concerned may ask to be replaced in the patronage of the case.
Conflict of Interest
- An Advocate or Legal Procurator at the Office of the Attorney General should not be tasked with a prosecution:
- if he has any interest in the outcome;
- if his spouse or cohabitant or anyone related to him till the fourth degree, has an interest in the proceedings;
- if he shall be in a situation that gives rise to lack of appearance of impartiality.
- In the event that an Advocate or Legal Procurator in the Office of the Attorney General considers that there are practical reasons which limit his involvement in a prosecution he may ask the Attorney General to be replaced.
Order of Work
- Advocates or Legal Procurators at the Office of the Attorney General should organize their work in such a way that they give priority to that work which they condiser to be more useful for the administration of criminal justice, also taking into account the magnitude and urgency of issues.
- In the event that Advocates or Legal Procurators realise that they cannot complete the work within the required time they must inform the Deputy Attorney General or other officer in charge of their section in the office where they work and they must inform him or her of the difficulties arising from excess of work assignments and of any unusual concentration of lime-limits.
- Advocates and Legal Procurators at the Office of the Attorney General must behave towards colleagues in a manner which demonstrates loyalty and good manners and in a way that demonstrates availability to help and solidarity.
- Advocates and Legal Procurators at the Office of the Attorney General shall maintain cordial and cooperative relations with the administrative and clerical staff and with other employees in the office. They should also take care of the property entrusted to them for office work.
- Advocates and Legal Procurators at the Office Of the Attorney General shall be present in the Office according to work requirements and in accordance with office hours in a way that is compatible with the need for their presence before Courts and other exigencies of their service.
- Advocates and Legal Procurators at the Office of the Attorney General shall collaborate with Magistrates and Judges during the hearings of the cases of which they hold patronage and should ensure that they are present for sittings in a punctual manner.
- Advocates and Legal Procurators at the Office of the Attorney General should take care of their appearance at the Office and during court sittings and should behave in a way that does not discredit the Office.
Impartiality and transparency in the assignment of work
Advocates and Legal Procurators in the Office of the Attorney General whose work involves coordination and provision of directions to other Advocates or Legal Procurators shall as far as possible assign the work in an equitable manner and in a way that permits, as much as possible, equality of opportunity in taking on the most important prosecutions.
- Advocates and Legal Procurators in the Office of General’s whose work does not involve the assigning of work to other Advocates or Legal Procurators shall not interfere in the assignment of work to other colleagues unless, if necessary, in order to deal with the prosecutions assigned to other colleagues when the latter are for some reason indisposed.
- Advocates and Legal Procurators in the Office of the Attorney General shall not solicit personal appointments or positions for themselves except as may be permitted by the Office of the Attorney General itself or by law.
- Advocates and Legal Procurators in the Office of the Attorney General should not accept gifts or personal favours from colleagues or from other employees of the Office other than those given according to custom (such as in the event of an anniversary or retirement or departure from the Office) or those of minimal value.
Advocates and Legal Procurators in the Office of the Attorney General should conduct their behaviour in communications outside the Office and their work with discernment and reserve, particularly with a view to avoiding the spreading of information that is prejudicial to the administration of criminal justice.
Training and updating
- The Attorney General ‘s Office should take care that the necessary formal and practical training, including training on ethics and integrity, is given to the Advocates and Legal Procurators who work at the Office.
- Advocates and Legal Procurators in the Office of the Attorney General should take care to keep themselves professionally up to date so that they may ensure a high level of service in the administration of criminal justice.
Failure to comply with the provisions of this Code of Ethics on the part of Advocates and Legal Procurators in the Office of the Attorney General constitutes a disciplinary offence.
The charges for disciplinary offences should be handled in a manner that ensures respect for the rights of the defence and the independence and impartiality in the decision.
27th December 2019