Professional regulatory bodies in Malta commonly possess the authority to investigate complaints, conduct hearings, and make decisions regarding disciplinary actions against professionals within their jurisdiction.

These investigative bodies therefore serve as ‘judges’, reviewing evidence, evaluating facts, and applying relevant laws and regulations to determine whether a professional has violated standards or rules. The decision-making process of these bodies usually follows administrative procedures and the specific laws governing the profession.

Frequently, these bodies consist of peers from the same profession. Personally, I have no issue with this arrangement and generally have confidence in my colleagues. It is often argued that professional rivalry may influence judgment or decision-making. To me, however, it has never been a concern. A warranted professional should rise above such matters, or at least, that is my personal belief. Were it not so, I would need to abstain from appearing before  the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal on which practicing architects are regularly appointed.

Returning to the function of these professional regulatory bodies: while it has been argued that such regulatory bodies can have a different structure compared to criminal or civil trials, recent events, demonstrate otherwise.

The First Hall Civil Court (Constitutional Jurisdiction) ruled that Honourable Dr Stephen Spiteri, who was alleged to have issued dodgy medical certificates  cannot be investigated, heard, and sanctioned by the same body, in this case, the Medical Council established by Chapter 464. This judgment can be found here. 

Incidentally, the approach adopted while formulating the Periti Act of 2021 addresses the solution to this matter. I had strongly suggested that Parliament carefully considered the notion that the investigation and imposition of sanctions on Periti should no longer be carried out by the Kamra tal-Periti. In fact, the Kamra is now required to refer any reported violations to an independent board known as the Periti Professional Conduct Board. Prima facie, it is ‘detached’ from the Kamra tal-Periti who carries out the investigations. Incidentally, this board is headed by a retired judge or magistrate, who presides over the proceedings and decisions related to alleged breaches by Periti.