The rights of claim confine to the rights of civil law
Although the accusation of so-called rights is a crime, it is not far from the rights that derive from civil law. This was held in Il-Pulizija -v- Paul Agius, Joseph Agius and Emanuel Agius, decided on May 19, 2021 by the magistrate Dr Donatella Frendo Dimech presiding over the Magistrates’ Court in his criminal jurisdiction.
The three brothers were charged with alleged rights which took place on June 6, 2020 and the following days. The Court immediately turned to the elements of the alleged rights set out in article 85 of the Criminal Code. In the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal rendered on November 30, 2016, the Court ruled that the Court should in these cases examine whether a state of affairs has been unilaterally altered and whether the victim of this offense has been deprived of it. use of possession. This offense is not intended to have the Court inquire into the title of the parties to property, whether it is movable or immovable property. It is intended not to take the law in hand and in order to have a status quo. It is like the civil action of spoliation.
The Court referred to another Il-Pulizija -v- Eileen Said judgment rendered on 19 June 2002 by the Court of Criminal Appeal. Here the court ruled that the alleged infringement of law is in fact a gray area between civil law and criminal law. Sir Andrew Jameson, in his report on the drafting of the Maltese Penal Code, said: “… it is doubtful that acts of this kind are not better left to the exercise of ordinary civil remedies by prohibition or claim for damages … ”.
The elements of this offense are when a person is deprived of the use of something and when the accused has acted because he has the right to act in that way. The accused must know that he should have taken a legal route. There must be an act which deprives possession of the object of the crime.
In the present case, the injured party claims that the Agius brothers arranged the soil so that the stream does not lead to their well and that they closed an opening between two fields. The court, appointed architect, did not find that the location of the ground disturbed the levels of the fields, as alleged by the injured party. When the levels were raised, the stream was still accessible for the water to lead to the well. The injured party failed to prove that there had been a significant change in level which would not allow the water to flow.
On this complaint, the Court declared the accused not guilty.
As for the opening in the wall, the Court referred to one of the accused’s testimony that the injured party used a particular opening, which was opened around 2010, until 2020, because the wall supporting the opening needed maintenance and because it was no longer necessary to transfer agricultural products from one field to another.
Despite this, the court ruled that the indictment mentioned that the alleged crime had been committed on June 6, 2020 and a few days after. The complainant argued that the opening was closed in September 2020, which is not days after, but 3 months after.
The court also found the accused not guilty.