This court, as the name implies -- General Jurisdiction Section of the Civil Court -- is the superior court which deals with all matters, civil and commercial, which are not by special provision of law assigned to be tried and determined by another court. Its jurisdiction increased dramatically after the suppression of the Commercial Court in 1995. It is also and more commonly known as the First Hall of the Civil Court.
Broadly speaking, all claims where the amount involved exceeds eleven thousand six hundred and forty six euros and eighty seven euro cents (Euro 11,646.87) fall to be tried by the First Hall of the Civil Court. So also are cases where the claim cannot be quantified in terms of value. Unless otherwise provided, an appeal lies from any decision of the First Hall of the Civil Court to the Court of Appeal.
The First Hall of the Civil Court is also the court which handles in first instance all cases dealing with allegations of violations of human rights, whether under the Constitution or under the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights as incorporated into Maltese law by virtue of the European Convention Act (Cap. 319). However in this case the appeal from the decision of the First Hall of the Civil Court is not heard by the Court of Appeal but by the Constitutional Court.
To date the First Hall of the Civil Court is also the court which deals with cases of judicial review of administrative action whereby administrative acts of the government or of any other public authority may be quashed. In practice it is also the court before which most applications for the issue of precautionary or executive warrants are brought, and is also responsible for the majority of judicial sales by auction of property.
One Judge sits in the First Hall of the Civil Court. At present there are seven Judges who are assigned to sit, separately, in this court. Up till recently, cases were assigned or distributed among these judges by the registrar on a roster basis. However, pursuant to powers conferred on the Chief Justice by Article 11 of the Code of Organisation and Civil Procedure (Cap. 12), cases are beginning to be assigned to judges according to the type of cases. This allows for greater specialisation by the Judge concerned.
In Gozo the Court of Magistrates (Gozo) in its Superior Jurisdiction has the same jurisdiction, powers and functions as are exercised by the First Hall of the Civil Court in Malta, but with some exceptions. Notable among these is that concerning allegations of violations of fundamental human rights: even if such a case emanates from Gozo, it must be brought before the First Hall of the Civil Court in Malta. An appeal lies from any decision of the Court of Magistrates (Gozo) in its Superior Jurisdiction to the Court of Appeal in Malta.
The Judges ordinarily sitting in the First Hall of the Civil Court are: the Hon. Mr Justice Joseph Azzopardi (Section President), the Hon. Mr Justice Gino Camilleri, the Hon. Mr Justice Carmelo Farrugia Sacco, the Hon. Mr Justice Joseph R. Micallef, the Hon. Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro, the Hon. Mr Justice Joseph Zammit McKeon and the Hon. Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti. The Magistrates ordinarily sitting in the Court of Magistrates (Gozo) in its Superior Jurisdiction are Magistrate Dr Paul Coppini and Magistrate Dr Josette Demicoli.