European Union Law
The applicable laws and regulations:
As from the 1st of May, 2004 all laws and regulations enacted by what was previously known as the European Community and, what is today the European Union, have become part and parcel of Maltese law by means of an Act enacted by the Maltese Parliament in the year 2003. This Act also provides that in cases where Maltese law is in conflict with European Union Law, the latter will prevail over the former and this includes the supreme law of Malta, that is, the Maltese Constitution.
As from the same date, Maltese Courts are bound to apply these laws just as any other Maltese law and are required to give the same rights and possibilities to Maltese litigants as available to any other European Union citizens. Furthermore, as from the same date, the institutions of the European Union (the European Commission in particular) have the duty to make sure that European Union laws and regulations are adhered to within the Maltese Islands. In this context, it is of utmost importance for any Maltese citizen, other European Union nationals and also for citizens of countries outside the European Union to know the exact regime of laws and regulations which apply to a particular business or to a particular situation within the Maltese Islands. These include:
a) Laws concerning fair competition;
b) Freedom of movement, goods and capital within the European Union;
c) European Union Citizenship;
d) Company Law;
e) Labour Law and the social services rights of European Union Citizens and persons enjoying freedom of movement within each and every Member State;
f) Intellectual property law.
A proper knowledge of these laws requires continuing research. This office offers the following services within this area:
1. Research of all laws and regulations applicable to the particular issue;
2. Advice on the applicability of the same laws and regulations to the particular issue in question;
3. Duties, obligations, rights and remedies arising out of such laws and regulations vis-à-vis the particular issue in question.
Procedure within the European Union Regime:
The application of European Union Laws within the Maltese context brings with it the application of new procedures in the Maltese Courts as well as before the European Union Institutions such as the European Commission and the European Court of Justice. In some instances, a litigant might have a right of direct action in front of the European Court of Justice or a right of appeal in front of the European Court of Justice. In other instances, a litigant using the normal litigation procedures in front of the Maltese Courts of Justice or Maltese Tribunals may have the right to ask the Maltese Court to refer his or her case to the European Court of Justice for a judgement upon the interpretation or applicability of an EU Law. In certain cases, the Maltese Courts are bound to refer; in others, reference to the European Court of Justice will be subject to the Court’s discretion and authorisation.
The services offered by this office within this area include:
1. Advice upon which procedure is applicable to a particular case in question;
2. Estimates of costs relative to the applicable procedure;
3. Advice as to the approximate duration of such a procedure;
4. Actual presentation of the necessary documentation within the competent authority in order to initiate proceedings;
5. Attendance, advice and follow-up of the procedure before the competent authority.
European Union Law is an area which keeps changing and evolving every day. The advice of a competent lawyer specialised in this area is highly recommended.