Civil Court follows up upon finding by Commissioner for Education

A court of civil jurisdiction has ruled that the redeployment of a lecturer from the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) back to a government secondary school was null and void because the decision amounted to an abuse of power. The court’s decision follows upon a previous ruling by the Commissioner for Education that the lecturer’s treatment by MCAST “was oppressive and tantamount to degrading treatment”.

On 6 October 2020, Dr Peter Gatt, a Senior Lecturer II at MCAST, had complained to the Ombudsman that for that current year he had not been assigned classes to teach and had also been prohibited from contacting students within the Institute to which he was assigned.

By a final decision of 12 May 2021, the Commissioner for Education, Chief Justice Emeritus Vincent A. De Gaetano, upheld his complaint and held that MCAST’s decision not to assign to the complainant any teaching duties and, moreover, to prohibit him from contacting students without any valid reason was behaviour (by MCAST) which was oppressive and tantamount to degrading treatment towards a member of its staff.

Shortly after this decision, Dr Gatt was informed by the Education Ministry that his detailing at MCAST was being revoked as of 11 June 2021, and that he was to report for duty at a secondary school. In July 2021, Dr Gatt applied for and obtained from the First Hall of the Civil Court a warrant of prohibitory injunction stopping the transfer from becoming effective, and he immediately followed this by seeking judicial review of the decision to revoke his detailing at MCAST.

By a judgment delivered by the First Hall of the Civil Court (Madam Justice Audrey Demicoli) on 30th May 2024, the revocation of the detailing was held to be null and void on the ground that it was an abuse of power as it was based on irrelevant considerations. The court ordered that the plaintiff be reinstated at MCAST in the salary scale he occupied before the decision to revoke his detailing was taken. The judgment is subject to appeal.

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