Malta: Arbitration World – 6th Edition

Last Updated: 13 February 2019
Article by Antoine G. Cremona and Anselmo Mifsud-Bonnici


1.1 What are the advantages and disadvantages relevant to arbitrating or bringing arbitration-related proceedings in your jurisdiction?

The choice of Malta as a seat of arbitration has become increasingly popular, mainly due to the following reasons:

  • Malta's arbitration law is closely modeled on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration 1985 ('Model Law'). As such, it will be familiar to experienced arbitration practitioners and corporate counsel alike;
  • an arbitral award, once registered with the Malta Arbitration Centre ('MAC'), constitutes an executive title and can be very efficiently executed;
  • the availability (and enforcement by the courts) of protective and interim measures similar to those available in leading arbitration venues;
  • the MAC offers a panel of experienced arbitrators from whom the parties may choose, without limiting the choice of arbitrators by the parties;
  • the geographical location of Malta may serve as an accessible, neutral location and is very often perceived as an ideal location for the settlement of disputes between European and Northern African companies;
  • Malta is a party to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (New York Convention) and its provisions have been incorporated into domestic law. The courts have generally applied the Convention with a pro-enforcement bias; and
  • as a seat of arbiration, Malta can be said to provide an exceptionally good cost to quality ratio.

However, Maltese arbitration law does not provide for discovery proceedings which may be perceived as a handicap by parties coming from a non-civil law jurisdiction.


2.1 How popular is arbitration as a method of settling disputes? What are the general trends and recent developments in your jurisdiction?

Arbitration is currently a widely used dispute resolution method in commercial matters. An ever-increasing number of disputes in insurance, maritime, building and construction and corporate claims are being resolved by way of arbitration. Although Malta as a seat of international arbitration has become more popular, the jurisdiction is still struggling to promote itself as a preferred seat.

2.2 Are there any unique jurisdictional attributes or particular aspects of the approach to arbitration in your jurisdiction that bear special mention?

Chapter 387 of the Laws of Malta ( 'Arbitration Act') establishes the publicly funded MAC which acts as the default arbitration registry/secretariat in domestic arbitration and can be selected to perform such roles as the role of default appointing authority in international arbitrations having Malta as their seat of arbitration.

2.3 Principal laws and institutions

2.3.1 What are the principal sources of law and regulation relating to international and domestic arbitration in your jurisdiction?

The Arbitration Act and the Arbitration Rules (Subsidiary Legislation 387.01) are the principal legislative instruments regulating arbitration in Malta. The Arbitration Act is modelled on the Model Law and the Arbitration Rules are likewise modelled on the UNCITRAL Rules. The Arbitration Act also incorporates the New York Convention, the Geneva Convention 1923, the Geneva Convention on the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Award 1927 (Geneva Convention 1927) and the Washington Convention 1965.

2.3.2 Which are the principal institutions that are commonly used and/or government agencies that assist in the administration or oversight of international and domestic arbitrations?

The MAC is the principal institution that oversees the conduct of domestic arbitrations and international arbitrations having Malta as their seat of arbitration. It is run by a publicly-appointed board of governors that is responsible for the policy and general administration of the affairs and business of the MAC. The Centre offers not only the necessary facilities for the conduct of arbitration but also a choice of arbitrator/s from panels of professionals in different areas of law.

Naturally, Malta can and does serve as the seat of ad hoc international arbitrations as well as the seat of institutional arbitrations under the rules of leading arbitration institutions (International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), CIR etc).

2.3.3 Which courts or other bodies have judicial oversight or supervision of the arbitral process.

The superior courts (First Hall Civil Courts and the Court of Appeal as the case may be) are vested with the powers to stay arbitration proceedings, grant interim relief, hear procedural challenges and make recognition orders. The specific division of powers and jurisdiction of the particular courts depends on the nature of the relief sought and are regulated by the Arbitration Act and the Code of Organization and Civil Procedure (Ch.12 of the Laws of Malta) and will be addressed in more detail below.

To read this Chapter in full, please click here.

Originally published by Thomson Reuters.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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