European Commission > EJN > Jurisdiction of the courts > Malta

Last update: 14-07-2006
Printable version Bookmark this page

Jurisdiction of the courts - Malta

EJN logo

This page is now obsolete. The original language version has been updated and moved to the European e-Justice Portal.


If you want to initiate legal proceedings in civil or commercial matters, you will have to identify the court that is competent to deal with your case or, in other words, has jurisdiction. If you use the wrong court or if there is a dispute over the question of jurisdiction you run the risk of a considerable delay in the proceedings or even of a dismissal of your case because of a lack of jurisdiction.



 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. Should I apply to an ordinary civil court or to a specialised court? A.
B. Where the ordinary civil courts have jurisdiction how can I find out which one I should apply to? B.
I. Is there a distinction between lower and higher ordinary civil courts and if so which one is competent for my case? I.
II. Territorial jurisdiction (Does the court of city/town A or of city/town B have jurisdiction for my case?) II.
1. The basic rule of territorial jurisdiction 1.
2. Territorial jurisdiction (Does the court of city/town A or of city/town B have jurisdiction for my case?) 2.
a) When can I choose between the court in the place where the defendant lives (court determined by the application of the basic rule) and another court? a)
b) When do I have to choose a court other than that in the place where the defendant lives (court determined by the application of the basic rule)? b)
c) Can the parties themselves attribute jurisdiction to a court that would not be competent otherwise

 c)

C. Where specialised courts have jurisdiction how can I find out which one I have to address? C.

 

A. Should I apply to an ordinary civil court or to a specialised court?

The absolute majority of civil and commercial cases fall within the jurisdiction of ordinary civil courts, there being no commercial courts. There are only a few specialised tribunals, amongst which those dealing with :

  • industrial relations (Industrial Tribunal) – hears cases relating to unfair dismissal and to discriminatory or other illegal treatment at the place of work.
  • lease (Rent Regulation Board) – hears cases relating to change in conditions of the lease including the increase in rent, and termination of the lease. These cases must relate to lease agreements entered into prior to 1st June 1995.
  • expropriation of land (Land Arbitration Board) – hears cases dealing with the classification of expropriated land and the amount of compensation due to the owner.

All of these Tribunals have their sittings in Valletta, in the same building which houses the ordinary courts.

B. Where the ordinary civil courts have jurisdiction how can I find out which one I should apply to?

I. Is there a distinction between lower and higher ordinary civil courts and if so which one is competent for my case?

There is a distinction among ordinary courts according to the value of the claim.

  • The Small Claims Tribunal hears cases up to Lm1500.– Refer to fact sheet on Order for Payment Procedures.
  • The Court of Magistrates hears cases having a value between Lm1501 and Lm5000 .
  • All other claims can be heard by the First Hall Civil Court (superior court). This court also hears claims dealing with ownership of, and burdens on immovable property.
  • The First Hall of the Civil Court in its Voluntary Jurisdiction hears matters which are non-contentious such as opening of secret wills, tutorship, adoption. The First Hall of the Civil Court Family Section hears any claim relating to the family, including personal separation, annullment of marriages, filiation and maintenance.

All of these courts are courts of first instance and they are all ordinary courts. Therefore an appeal from decisions of these courts can be lodged in the Court of Appeal. In the case of appeals from the Small Claims Tribunal or from the Court of Magistrates, the appeal is made to the Court of Appeal in its Inferior Jurisdiction (presided by one judge). In the case of appeals from the First Hall of the Civil Court, the appeal is filed before the Court of Appeal in its Superior Jurisdiction (presided by three judges).

TopTop

II. Territorial jurisdiction (Does the court of city/town A or of city/town B have jurisdiction for my case?)

1. The basic rule of territorial jurisdiction

The basic rule of territorial jurisdiction is the place of residence of the defendant. There are no courts pertaining to different cities. However the Small Claims Tribunal in Gozo as well as the Court of Magistrates (Gozo) have jurisdiction over claims against defendants residing in Gozo. The Court of Magistrates (Gozo) has twofold jurisdiction, as an inferior and as a superior court. In the latter case it has the same jurisdiction as the First Hall Civil Court in Malta. The same rules as to the distinctions between the courts apply in Malta and in Gozo.

2. Territorial jurisdiction (Does the court of city/town A or of city/town B have jurisdiction for my case?)

An exception to the basic rule referred to above is where the obligation is to be carried out in a particular island. For example, if the defendant is resident in Gozo but the obligation subject to the claim is to be carried out in Malta, then the Maltese courts have jurisdiction and all court proceedings are filed before the Maltese courts notwithstanding that the defendant resides in Gozo.

a) When can I choose between the court in the place where the defendant lives (court determined by the application of the basic rule) and another court?

The rules of territorial jurisdiction under Maltese law do not provide for choice of court between the parties.

b) When do I have to choose a court other than that in the place where the defendant lives (court determined by the application of the basic rule)?

If the obligation is executable in a particular island.

c) Can the parties themselves attribute jurisdiction to a court that would not be competent otherwise

There is no legal provision that allows for this.

C. Where specialised courts have jurisdiction how can I find out which one I have to address?

Normally, the jurisdiction of the specialised tribunals is defined in the laws setting them up, and it depends on the subject matter of the case.

Further information

« Jurisdiction of the courts - General information | Malta - General information »

TopTop

Last update: 14-07-2006

 
  • Community law
  • International law

  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Estonia
  • Ireland
  • Greece
  • Spain
  • France
  • Italy
  • Cyprus
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Hungary
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Austria
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom