Vincent Anthony De Gaetano



Personal details


NAME: Vincent Anthony De Gaetano


SEX: Male


DATE AND PLACE OF BIRTH:17 August, 1952 -- Malta




MARITAL STATUS: Married to Marie-Therese Ambrogio




Education and academic and other qualifications




Jesuit College of St. Aloysius (Malta) (1961-1968);

Junior College of the Royal University of Malta (1968-1970); Royal University of Malta (1970-1975);

University of Cambridge (Gonville and Caius College) (1976-1979).




Diploma of Notary Public (1974) (Royal University of Malta);

Degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D., thesis in Public International Law, “The Genuine Link Theory in Dual Nationality in International Law”) (1975)

(Royal University of Malta) (First in order of merit in years 1, 2 and 3; second in year 5);

Diploma in Criminology (papers in sociology, psychiatry and psychology, methodology and criminal law; dissertation in penology) (1977) (University of Cambridge) (Third in order of merit); Called to the Bar in Valetta, Malta, January 1976.




Relevant professional activities




Senior Counsel for the Republic in the Attorney-General’s Office, Malta, July 1979;

Assistant Attorney-General, August 1988;

Deputy Attorney-General, July 1989 to March 1994 (in the above three posts, responsible for general legal advice to Government in matters of public

law; principal prosecutor before the Criminal Court and Court of Criminal

Appeal; contributed also to legislative drafting particularly in the fields of public law and criminal law);

Judge, Superior Courts, Malta, March 1994 to August 2002 (ordinarily

sitting in the Court of Criminal Appeal and in the Criminal Court; also in the First Hall of the Civil Court to try constitutional redress applications in first instance, and in the Second Hall (Court of Voluntary Jurisdiction) of the Civil Court; formerly ordinarily sitting in the First Hall of the Civil Court to try separation, marriage annulment, custody and maintenance cases in first instance).

Chief Justice and President of the Constitutional Court, of the Court of Appeal and of the Court of Criminal Appeal, 26 August 2002 to September 2010.

Chief Justice Emeritus and Judge of the European Court of Human Rights elected in respect of Malta, 20 September 2010 to date.




Supervised undergraduates in Criminology from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, Lent and Easter terms, 1979;

Visiting Lecturer in Criminology/Administration of Justice, Department of Economic and Social Studies/Faculty of Management Studies, University of

Malta, January 1980, October 1980 to January 1981, February 1985 to January


Visiting Lecturer, Workers’ Participation Development Centre, University of Malta, June 1986;

Examiner (Malta Government, Local Examinations Branch) in Sociology

(1980), Law (1981), Law of Evidence and Forensic Medicine (1983);

Visiting Lecturer in Sociology of Deviance and Law, Department of Social Studies, University of Malta, and at the Institute of Philosophy and Human Studies of the Faculty of Theology, Archdiocese of Malta, 1986 to 1988;

Visiting Lecturer in Criminal Law, Faculty of Laws, University of Malta, 1987 to 1991; Lecturer, November 1991; Senior Lecturer, January 1994 to March 2003 (on non-remunerative basis since judicial appointment in March 1994); Honorary Senior Lecturer, March 2003 to date;

Taught Criminal Law and Law of Criminal Procedure, Malta Police Academy/Police G.H.Q., 1982, 1983 and 1984; and at the Police Academy, Fort St. Elmo, 1988, 1989 and 1990; taught also special course on prosecution to Police Cadets, 1991, 1992;




Activities and experience in the field of human rights


As Senior Counsel for the Republic, Assistant Attorney-General and Deputy Attorney-General, I appeared for the Government in human rights cases (both with respect to the human rights provisions in the Constitution of Malta and, later, the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights as incorporated in the European Convention Act, Ca. 319 of the Revised Edition of the Laws of Malta) before the First Hall of the Civil Court and before the Constitutional Court. As a judge sitting in the First Hall of the Civil Court, I tried human rights cases in first instance. As Chief Justice and President of the Constitutional Court, I sat with two other judges to try all human rights cases at the appellate stage.


As Senior Lecturer in the Department of Criminal Law of the Faculty of Laws of the University of Malta, I have taught certain aspects of human rights in connection with substantive Criminal Law and the Law of Criminal Procedure. More recently I have lectured on human rights as guest of City Montessori School, Lucknow, India.


After my election to the European Court of Human Rights, I have lectured extensively on human rights related subjects both at specialised conferences and seminars in Strasbourg and in Malta, as well as on mission in Catania, Palermo, London, Amsterdam, Cosenza, Ankara, Firenze and Lvov.


At the European Court of Human Rights I am a member of the (Standing) Committee on Working Methods.




Public activities


Regular contributor and local correspondent, Commonwealth Law Bulletin, 1980 to 1987;

Participated in U.S. International Visitor Program (courts and correctional institutions in the U.S.A.), September 1986;

Member of the ad hoc Committee of Experts on the Legal Aspects of Territorial Asylum, Refugees and Stateless Persons (CAHAR) of the Council of Europe, 1988 to 1994;

Malta’s representative on the Steering Committee on Legal Co-Operation

(CDCJ) of the Council of Europe, 1988 to April 2000; Vice-Chairman, November, 1995 to December 1997; Chairman, January 1998 to December 1999;

Chairman of the Multidisciplinary Group on Corruption (GMC) of the Council of Europe, 1995 to December 1997;

Representative of the Steering Committee on Legal Co-Operation (CDCJ) on the Multidisciplinary Group on Corruption (GMC), December 1999 to October 2001, and on The Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), December 1999 to February 2004;

Participated as an expert in a Council of Europe mission to Yerevan, Armenia, within the Octopus Programme to study the legislative and institutional framework against corruption, organised crime and money

laundering in that country, July 2001;

Participated as an expert in a Council of Europe mission to Baku, Azerbaijan, to advise on the draft “Anti-Corruption Practices Law” of the Republic of Azerbaijan, October 2001;

Formerly member of the inter-departmental committee on computerised

legal data processing at the law courts (Malta);

Formerly member of the inter-ministerial committee for the setting up of an Approved School in Malta;

Attended two month course for Senior Government Legal Advisers between February and April 1992 at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies of

the University of London on legislative drafting, constitutional and administrative law and international commercial transactions (bursary awarded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office);

Visited legal institutions in London and Edinburgh between the 20 and 25

April 1992 on an Overseas Visitors Programme organised by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Founding member of the Association of Judges and Magistrates of Malta.

Member of the Commission for the Administration of Justice (elected from among the judges), April 2002 to August 2002; ex officio Deputy Chairman of the

said Commission upon becoming Chief Justice in August 2002 (until September 2010).




Other activities


As Chief Justice I represented Malta on the European Conference of Constitutional Courts, on the Network of Presidents of Supreme Judicial Courts of the European Union, and on the Association of the Councils of State and Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions of the European Union; I also represented the Judicial Studies Committee (the body responsible for the training of judges and magistrates in Malta) on the Lisbon Network.


As for other papers, allocutions etc., see under “The Judiciary > Speeches by the Chief Justic and under “Other Information > Documents ”.




Published papers and compilations


On the Status of the Holy See in International Law, Law Journal (Malta University Press), Vol. III, Dec. 1973, pp. 19-22;

Violence in Context, ibid., Vol. VIII, 1977, pp. 37-59;


From Approved Schools to Community Homes - An English Exercise in Cosmetic Terminology?, International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice (Wichita University), 1978, Vol. II, no. 2, pp. 153-170;


Building and Judicial Interpretation, The Architect (Malta Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers), Nov. 1980, no. 5, pp. 19-24;


Criminal Law and the Protection of the Individual, De Jure (Crest Publishing Ltd., Malta), Vol. I, Autumn 1982, pp. 25-31;


Calleja v. Balzan: Reflections on Public Order, Id-Dritt/Law Journal (Law Students Association, University of Malta), Vol. X, Autumn 1983, pp. 13-42;


Public Meetings and English Courts: A Historical Note, Il-Pulizija (Malta Police Association), Vol. 4 no. 2 to Vol. 5 no. 1 (1983/1984);


Attorney-General, magistrates and the police: the Maltese system, Commonwealth Law Bulletin (Commonwealth Secretariat, London), 1989, Vol. 15, pp. 301-309;


The Doctor in Court – An Overview, Id-Dritt/Law Journal (The Law Society, Għ.S.L., University of Malta), Vol. XVII, 1999, pp. 17-27;


Selected Criminal Cases for Students – Vol. I [1994], (with S. Tonna Lowell) (The Law Society, Għ.S.L., University of Malta), 1999;


Selected Criminal Cases for Students – Vol. II [1995], (with S. Tonna Lowell) (The Law Society, Għ.S.L., University of Malta), 2000;


Drug-Related Crime and Criminal Justice Issues in Malta, Id-Dritt (The Law Students’ Society, Għ.S.L., University of Malta), Vol. XVIII, 2002, pp. 101- 108;


Darfur and the European Court of Human Rights, The British Journal of Sociology [Blackwell Publishing Limited] 2011, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp. 37-41;


Cross-Border Family Law Issues: a View from Strasbourg, [2011] International Family Law [Jordan Publishing Limited, London], pp. 292-302;


Social Rights in Malta – An Overview, (March 2012);


Libel and Defamation in Malta – a historical sketch, in Freedom of Expression – Essays in Honour of Nicolas Bratza, Wolf Legal Publishers (Oisterwijk), 2012, pp. 505-516;


The Constitutional Guarantees of Rights and Political Freedoms – A Maltese perspective, in Liberae Cogitationes – Liber Amicorum Marc Bossuyt, Intersentia (Cambridge), 2013, pp. 139-151;


The Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons as reflected in the case-law of the European Convention on Human Rights, (November 2013) OC/PCOC_special_session_en.asp


Riflessioni sulla Libertΰ di Religione e di Coscienza: Articolo 9 della Convenzione Europea dei Diritti dell’Uomo, I quaderni europei – Scienze giuridiche (Centro di Documentazione Europea – Universitΰ di Catania), Febbraio 2014, no. 61


Positive Obligations, Law & Practice (Malta Chamber of Advocates), Issue 31, December 2014, pp. 9-18.




Other relevant information


Italian Government Travel Bursary for excellence in Italian language, September 1969;

Malta Government Scholarship tenable at the Royal University of Malta

for three academic years, 1971 to 1974;

Association of Commonwealth Universities Scholarship, originally awarded for one-year post graduate course in Criminology (1976-1977), subsequently extended up to July, 1979 for research into comparative aspects of Police Powers and Public Order under the direction of the late Professor Sir

David G. T. Williams, then Reader in Public Law, Emmanuel College, Cambridge;

Fellow of the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies (Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria) for the 199th. session (July, 1980) on American

Law and Legal Institutions;

Offers of teaching posts from the University of the West Indies and from the University of Canterbury (Christchurch, New Zealand), June 1979.

Decorations: Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, I Class (Republic of Estonia); Grand Officer in The Order of the Three Stars (Republic of Latvia);

Cavaliere di Gran Croce dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana; Grand Officer of the Order of the Republic of Tunisia; Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Cyprus; Grand Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary (Civil Division); Grand Cross 1st Class of the Order of Merit of the

Federal Republic of Germany.