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Introduction


Located in the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Sicily, the Republic of Malta consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. The largest island of the group is Malta, from which the archipelago takes its name. Valletta, the capital, is the cultural, administrative and commercial centre of the archipelago. The population of Malta is approximately 400,000 and the official languages are English and Maltese, though Italian is widely spoken.


​Malta is well served with harbours, chief of which is the VallettaGrandHarbour. Its strategic position has allowed Malta to develop as an important trading post and is often described as an international maritime service centre.


​It is the climate, together with a very rich and ancient history, that has also made Malta an important tourist resort in the centre of the Mediterranean. Annual rainfall in Malta is rather low - approximately 600mm (24 inches) and the length of the dry season in summer is longer than in southern Italy. Malta has a very sunny climate with an average of five to six hours of sunshine a day in midwinter and over twelve hours a day in mid-summer.


​Malta became independent from Britain in 1964 and is a Republic since 1973. It is a fully fledged democratic country with respect for the rule of law.  Malta is a member of the major international organizations including the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union since 2004.


​Malta has a sound infrastructure setup, both financial and geographical. Telecommunications, postal links, courier services, banking and all other services are generally speaking very efficient and of a high standard.  Most major European airlines have frequent flights to Malta.


​The workforce in Malta is largely efficient, English speaking and competitively priced. Malta grants tax and other incentives to foreign persons or firms setting up business in Malta. During the last twenty years, Malta has developed into a modern financial centre and today ranks along with the major financial centres within the Mediterranean region.


​The Maltese Legal System


​​Maltese law is always codified and is very similar to French and Italian law. Reference is often made to French and Italian legal writers in the interpretation of Maltese law. However in the Criminal, Administrative and Constitutional Law field, Malta has borrowed heavily from the British system.


In the newer fields of law, particularly in the environmental, financial, company and fiscal legislative areas, a large number of new laws have been enacted over the past fifteen years and these tend to be borrowed from other countries (in particular from Britain) and adapted to Maltese requirements. Naturally, as an EU Member, Malta also applies the the European Union’s Acquis Communautaire.


The Courts


​​Courts in Malta are generally divided between the Civil Courts, the Criminal Courts and the Constitutional Court.


​Civil cases are assigned to the Small Claims Tribunal (presided over by a legal practitioner), or to the Magistrates Courts (presided over by a Magistrate) or to the Superior Courts (presided over by a Judge) depending on the value of the claim. A right of appeal is generally available from judgments of these Courts to the Court of Appeal (either in its inferior or superior jurisdiction depending on the value of the claim).


​​The Voluntary section of the Civil Court deals largely with non-contentious matters affecting the status of persons such as adoptions, minors, tutorship and similar matters, while the Family section deals with family law issues.


​Apart from the Civil and Criminal Courts, there are various ad hoc tribunals which are setup for specific cases involving specific areas of law. Our lawyers at Portelli & Portelli Advocates have experience in representing clients both in the superior and inferior courts and tribunals of Malta. Contact us should you have any query on your particular issue.

ABOUT THE MALTESE ISLANDS

Introduction

The Maltese Legal System

The Courts