Private International Law

In view of the importance of global economy, which provides business relations between several European Union Member States and other countries, the legislation on recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments evolved extensively. Malta became an important strategic business hub creating investment opportunities in various industries, hence becoming a gateway to other European and non-European markets due to its geographical location. This also brought about the posting of workers from one country to another, change in ones domicile, taxation and issues directly related to succession matters.

Private International Law concerns what has been described as ‘disputes about disputes’ or ‘disputes within disputes’ or ‘disputes about how and where the actual substantive dispute is to be settled.’ It is thus procedural in nature.  The latter always involves a foreign element. The foreign element differs from and thus potentially conflicts with a national rule on the same point. Resolution of the problem, meaning the resolution of the conflicting assertions of jurisdiction and governing law, is done by means of determining which of the courts of two or more countries have jurisdiction to hear the case and which system of law (internal procedural and substantive) would apply.

There are three pillars to Private International Law:

  • Jurisdiction: the rules which define whether the Maltese courts have jurisdiction to hear a claim when one or more of the parties or some aspect of the claim is foreign.
  • Applicable law (Choice of Law): the rules which tell us whether the Maltese courts will apply Maltese or foreign law. Thus even if the Maltese courts have jurisdiction, it is not necessarily the Maltese law that applies.
  • Recognition and Enforcements of Foreign Judgments: these rules regulate whether foreign judgments can be recognized as decisive of the question in dispute, and whether the right vested in the judgment can be enforced in another jurisdiction.

In Malta the enforcement of foreign judgments related to a civil and commercial matters are regulated by the Code of Organization and Civil Procedure Chapter 12 of the Laws of Malta and the European Union legislation on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, Regulation (EC) 1215/2012, also known as the Brussels recast regulation.