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Court Decisions Need to be Reasoned

Court decisions need to contain reasons why the Court arrived to such a decision. This applies not only to judgements but also to decrees. If a decision does not contain any reasons, then, this gives rise to a breach of one's human rights. Why is this so? Because, if a decisions does not contain any reasons, then one's right to contest the judgement or decree is being effectively hampered or denied.

One might ask, if the Court decided against or in favour a request, without providing any reasons or adequate reasons, found in an application or sworn application, isn't that enough to proceed forward to contest it? The answer is no. And, why is that? Because to be able to effectively contest the said decision, one needs to know why the Court decided to refuse or uphold the request found in the application or sworn application. There might be a multitude of reasons and the absence of such in the decision leads to a lack of a fair hearing.

Indeed, having a reasoned decision does not only guarantee a fair hearing but is a basic principle of natural justice (Chauhan, V. (1995). REASONED DECISION : A PRINCIPLE OF NATURAL JUSTICE. Journal of the Indian Law Institute, 37(1), 92-104). If one looks at local case-law, one finds that at times there were cases where a reasoned decision was not given. This is common, in applications which are filed in the Family Court, as quite a large volume of applications are filed on a daily basis as opposed to the Civil Court. However, this does not mean that the parties should not be given a reasoned decision. This resulted in cases being put forward in front of the Civil Court (Constitutional Jurisdiction), a court tasked to examine human rights breaches. In the case Nadia Vella et vs. Avukat Ġenerali et (Const. App. No 62/2016JZM) decided on 30 May 2019, the Civil Court (Consitutional Jurisdiction) observed that, all Court decisions, more so where minor children are invovled, must be explained in the best posible manner, with such explanation being the result of a careful analysis of the evidence at hand.

Therefore, having a reasoned decision is imperative to maintain a fair hearing where both parties can clearly know the reasons why the Court arrived to such a decision and therefore be in a position to contest it, if needs be.

Article written by Dr Ann Marie Mangion.

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