Dispute Resolution

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Progressively, the firm has built a strong and specialised workforce, and has thus been able to offer specialised assistance specific to the nature of the dispute. Chetcuti Cauchi offers clients dispute resolution services to its clients and advises them on how to tackle disputes arising from civil, corporate, shipping, debt recovery and intellectual property matters, amongst others.

Dispute resolution

Malta’s “modern” judicial system finds its roots in Roman law. There have been various notable legal changes and judicial revisions to Malta’s basic legal infrastructure, including effects by Roman Law, changes introduced by the Code Napoleon, influences left by the Inquisition and the effects of a 200-year British rule. At the moment, the Maltese legal system is a blend of civil law and common law practices, and as of 2004 we introduced the acquis communautaire and EU directives and regulations as a significant part of our legal framework.

The Maltese judicial system, comprising courts and tribunals for the resolution of all forms of legal disputes, provides for various offices including Judges, Magistrates, Commissioners for Justice, Adjudicators (who sit in the Small Claims Tribunals), assistants (who sit with a Magistrate in the Juvenile Court) and arbitrators.

The Maltese judiciary is composed of those serving Judges and Magistrates appointed to sit in the Superior and Inferior Courts and only these Judges and Magistrates appointed in terms of the Constitution can be referred to, collectively, as the Judiciary. 

There are several options of dispute resolution for litigants to choose from; however court litigation remains the most popular form of dispute resolution in Malta. Alternative forms of dispute resolution systems and fora include arbitration, mediation, tribunals and boards.

Malta Litigation

Malta's Courts of Justice are divided into Superior and Inferior courts. Judges sit in the Superior Courts, which are:

  • the Constitutional Court
  • the Court of Appeal
  • the Court of Criminal Appeal
  • the Criminal Court and
  • the Civil Court 

The Inferior Courts are the Court of Magistrates (Malta) and the Court of Magistrates (Gozo). The latter court has a superior and an inferior jurisdiction. 

Cyprus Litigation

Similarly, court litigation is the favoured method of dispute resolution in Cyprus, with alternative forms of dispute resolution remaining relatively uncommon. The Cypriot legal system is a two-tier system of courts. District courts are courts of first instance in civil cases. Such courts are made up of one or more presidents, senior district judges and district judges, as decided by the Supreme Court. The second-tier court is an appellant court and is also the Supreme Court of Cyprus, composed of 13 members, including its president.

Alternative Dispute Resolution in Malta

Modes for dispute resolution which do not comprise proceedings before a court, dubbed as Alternative Dispute resolution (ADR), are usually resorted to as there are a number of benefits which make them preferable to court litigation, mainly the fact that they are faster, cheaper and  more informal and confidential in nature.

Arbitration has been established by Maltese statute as the other official recourse method. It is regulated by the Arbitration Act (Chapter 387, Laws of Malta), which establishes the framework and is the main legislative Act dealing with arbitration proceedings and establishing the Malta Arbitration Centre. In addition to the act, one finds the Arbitration Rules (2004) which deal with proceedings, costs, awards and other rules and guidelines. 

An arbitration agreement is defined in the Malta Arbitration Act as “an agreement by the parties to submit to arbitration all or certain disputes which have arisen or which may arise between them in respect of a defined legal relationship, whether contractual or not.  An arbitration agreement may be in the form of an arbitration clause in a contract or in the form of a separate agreement.”

The Malta Arbitration Centre (MAC) was given a number of powers and responsibilities regarding the running of arbitrations. It has defined powers which are necessary for the proper functioning of the whole arbitration process. In fact, an arbitration in Malta will not be valid if it is not carried out under the auspices of the MAC, thus institutionalising the arbitral process.

By nature, arbitration usually demands the consent of both parties to submit a dispute to the jurisdiction of arbitration proceedings. However, Malta's Arbitration Act also provides for certain situations where arbitration is mandatory. These include minor traffic accidents and condominium disputes. This is intended as a less costly and less time consuming solution for the resolution of disputes which can be solved without resorting to the Courts.

International Arbitration

The Malta Arbitration centre promotes the proper conduct of domestic arbitration and international commercial arbitration as well. A number of international laws have been added as schedules to the Arbitration Act, namely:

  • the Centre incorporates the UNCITRAL Model Law (First Schedule to the Act)
  • the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses (Second Schedule to the Act)
  • the Geneva Convention on the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards (Second Schedule to the Act)
  • the UN Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (Second Schedule to the Act)
  • the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (Third Schedule to the Act).

The Act also incorporates provisions related to the formation of Arbitration Chambers between Maltese and non-residents of Malta for the purpose of international arbitration. Non- Malta residents will pay only a modest amount of tax in Malta following a distribution made by an Arbitration Chamber.

Often, in international contracts, arbitration is many times the 'go-to' recourse process as it is a quick and confidential solution to litigation. In international contracts, the parties may stipulate which law they will apply.

Our Dispute Resolution Practice

With the best resources, assets and vast knowledge and experience at our backs, Chetcuti Cauchi can offer help and support to both local and international clients in any kind of dispute resolution matter. Chetcuti Cauchi has attracted a wide range of international clients and assists a vast and varied number of clients in negotiations and has guided them in selecting the most efficient and practical solutions for conflicts and deadlocks.

Throughout the years we have built a well-established strong and specialized work force which allows us to offer impeccable assistance specific to the nature of the dispute. We advise clients on disputes of a civil, corporate, shipping, financial services, debt recovery and intellectual property nature, amongst others.

Dispute Resolution Lawyers

Our lawyers endorse the value of constructive effort and thus seek to advise clients on the best form of dispute resolution which would suit their needs. Our firm’s lawyers have taken an active role in the public scene of dispute resolution, particularly ADR. The firm's lawyers are all members of the local Bar and of the Maltese Chamber of Advocates. The firm's partners were the first Malta Members of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in London, and were heavily involved with the initial setting up stages of arbitration in Malta and have lectured and written extensively on the topic.

The firm mostly handles commercial litigation, arbitration, mediation, negotiation and out of court settlements. Our lawyers who specialise in particular practice groups work hand in hand with our litigation lawyers to provide the client a holistic solution, from a substantive and procedural point of view.  We also take care of a sizeable case load of debt recovery, counterfeit goods and maritime disputes. 

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Key Contacts

Dr Priscilla Mifsud Parker

Senior Partner - Corporate, Tax & Immigration

+356 22056422

Dr Silvana Zammit


+356 22056423

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