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Last update: 06-04-2006
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Enforcement of judgements - Malta

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What does enforcement mean in civil and commercial matters? 1.
2. What are the conditions under which an enforceable title or decision may be issued? 2.
2.1. The procedure 2.1.
2.2. The substantive conditions 2.2.
3. Object and nature of enforcement measures 3.
3.1. What type of assets can be subject to enforcement? 3.1.
3.2. What are the effects of an enforcement measure? 3.2.
3.3. What is the validity of such measure? 3.3.
4. Is there a possibility of appeal against the decision granting such a measure? 4.
4.1. Who can contest this decision and before which court? 4.1.
4.2. What is the time limit within which such an appeal is to be lodged? 4.2.
4.3. What is the effect of such an appeal? 4.3.

 

1. What does enforcement mean in civil and commercial matters?

Enforcement is the exercise of a Court decision. The enforcement measures usually employed are the warrant of seizure, the judicial sale by auction, the garnishee order, the warrant of ejection and expulsion from immovable property, and the warrant in factum.

2. What are the conditions under which an enforceable title or decision may be issued?

2.1. The procedure

Enforcement is related to executive titles. Under Maltese procedural law, the following are executive titles:

  • judgments and decrees of Court;
  • contracts received by a Notary;
  • taxed bills of judicial fees and disbursements;
  • arbitration awards;
  • bills of exchange and promissory notes.

A court order is necessary.

Any enforcement ordered by the Courts is normally carried out by the Court Marshall, who has the power to execute any order of the Court with the assistance of the police where appropriate. The Court Marshall’s also have the power to evict persons from houses and other buildings occupied by them illegally.

The application for enforcement should be made through a lawyer or a legal procurator, as the case may be. The enforcement of decisions of the Civil Court involving amounts of more than Lm5000, may only be applied for by a lawyer.

Scale of costs for each type of enforcement measure:

  1. The filing of an application for a judicial sale by auction
    Registration fee : Lm50
    Fee due to executive officers required to effect service,
    for each notification : Lm3
  2. The filing of a warrant of prohibitory injunction
    Registration fee Lm50
    Fee due to executive officers required to effect service,
    for each notification Lm3
  3. The filing of any other warrant
    Registration fee Lm15
    Fee due to executive officers required to effect service,
    for each notification Lm3
2.2. The substantive conditions

The Courts will seek to ensure that the enforcement measure is being requested in respect of an executive title which is valid according to the criteria established by law, and that the person requesting the enforcement is in fact the person in possession of the executive title or his lawful representative.

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3. Object and nature of enforcement measures

3.1. What type of assets can be subject to enforcement?

Bank notes, tangible movable property, registered means of transport, and immovable property are amongst the assets which may be seized. However the law specifies a number of assets which are excluded from seizure, namely:

  • clothes for daily wear, bedding and such utensils;
  • furniture considered as necessary for the decent living of the debtor and his family;
  • books relating to the profession of a debtor or of his children;
  • the registers and minute books of Notaries Public;
  • tools and implements necessary for the instruction in or the exercise of any science or art of the debtor or his children;
  • animals and tools required for agriculture;
  • vessels wholly chartered in the service of the Government of Malta;
  • property of a member of the Police Force or of the Armed Forces of Malta being arms, ammunition, equipment, instruments or clothing used by him in the discharge of his duties;

It is also not lawful to issue a garnishee order upon the following assets:

  • salary or wages (including bonus, allowances, overtime and other emoluments) under the sum of Lm300;
  • social secutiry benefit, pension, allowance or assistance;
  • charitable grants made by the Government;
  • bequest made in relation to maintenance;
  • sum due for maintenance ordered by the Court or by means of a public deed if the debt itself is not in respect to maintenance;
  • sum due by any civil or military department of the public service for the price of works or supplies.
3.2. What are the effects of an enforcement measure?
Vis-à-vis the debtor who fails to comply with the measure:

If the debtor fails to comply, the disposal of his asset is still valid unless the creditor manages to halt the process through further action in Court.

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The debtor may be charged with contempt of court (disobeying the orders of the Court).

Vis-à-vis third party
  1. What are the obligations of the bank regarding the disclosure of information as well as the attachment of accounts?

    Banks are bound to declare whether they are in possession of money belonging to the debtor, and are obliged to deposit the identified amount in the warrant in the Registry of Court.

  2. What are the sanctions for contempt of the order granting the measure?

    A person who is found guilty of contempt of court may be liable to imprisonment (up to a period of one month) or a fine ranging between Lm100 and Lm1,000, or to both imprisonment and fine.

3.3. What is the validity of such measure?

There is no limit to the validity of warrants of seizure, however a garnishee order must be prolonged on a yearly basis.

4. Is there a possibility of appeal against the decision granting such a measure?

4.1. Who can contest this decision and before which court?

There is no appeal as such, however the party concerned may impune the measure in question by civil proceedings before the competent Court.

4.2. What is the time limit within which such an appeal is to be lodged?

n.a.

4.3. What is the effect of such an appeal?

When the executive title is challenged, the Court may suspend the execution pending the decision given by the Court.

« Enforcement of judgements - General information | Malta - General information »

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Last update: 06-04-2006

 
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