Legal assistance to farmers in risk of eviction from privately leased agricultural land

Fisheries Minister Anton Refalo

The government believes that the agricultural sector is essential for the country and plays a multifunctional role, ranging from food production to environmental conservation. In this regard, the government has a duty to support the agriculture sector through policies that guarantee the continuity of farming and ensure an adequate level of income for farmers, hence why this initiative has been put forward with others to follow.

In the Judgment of the Constitutional Court of 23 November 2020 in the names “J&C Properties Limited vs Nazzareno Pulis and Others”, the Constitutional Court found that the Agricultural Leases (Reletting) Act (Chapter 199) violates the fundamental rights to the enjoyment of property and to the proper hearing of the landlord. As a consequence to this sentence, farming is being threatened by the possible eviction of farmers from privately rented land.

The government considers that the Agriculture Leases Act is intended to ensure that agricultural land is farmed and not converted to non-agriculture uses such as recreational activities. In this regard, the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Animal Rights will be assisting those farmers who are being faced with this problem by providing technical and legal support to alleviate the financial burden due to legal actions and court cases. These services will be provided through the Ministry’s Agriculture Advisory Services (AgriConnect).

Farmers registered with the Agriculture Directorate who have been threatened, given notice of eviction, or taken to court by the landlord can benefit from this initiative. Request for support to benefit from technical or legal advice related can be made by contacting AgriConnect on 21804981/2/4 or via email on or by visiting one of the offices in Mellieħa, Qormi, Żabbar or Victoria, Gozo.

Farmers involved in ongoing court cases, those notified of a court case, or those whose landlord has not accepted the annual rent, can be provided with legal assistance to represent them in court. The Ministry will also assist in depositing the rent in court on their behalf.

File photo: Agriculture Minister Anton Refalo