Extension of the competence of the Civil Court (Commercial Section) to include competition matters and consumer affairs
Act No. XVI of 2019 enacted on 31 May 2019 amends the Competition Act, the Consumer Affairs Act and certain other laws to extend the competence of the Civil Court (Commercial Section) established on 09 April 2018 pursuant to Act No. 1 of 2019 and article 3 of the Civil Courts (Establishment of Sections) Order.
The competence of the Commercial Section of the Civil Court to include competition matters and consumer affairs is in addition to its original competence to hear and adjudicate disputes relating to matters regulated by the Companies Act.
The legislative reforms enacted in 1995 with the aim of ensuring a more expeditious administration of justice had merged the commercial and the civil jurisdiction of the Courts into one, the First Hall of the Civil Court, to remove undue delays in the judicial process and facilitate the distribution of duties amongst judges.
However, the proliferation of commercial laws at EU and domestic level over the last 25 years, and their increasingly sophisticated nature, means that a mixed commercial and civil competence of the Maltese Civil Courts is no longer considered adequate and Parliament is turning to the Commercial Section of the Civil Court to ensure that commercial disputes may be resolved expertly and expeditiously to meet the expectations of domestic and international litigants.
It is expected that the competence of the Civil Court (Commercial Section) will continue to be extended in future to gradually include a wider variety of commercial matters.
The provisions of Act No. XVI of 2019 still need to be brought into force.