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Recognition of Foreign Judgments in Malta

Recognition of Foreign Judgments in Malta

Foreign judgments in Malta are regulated by the Code of Organization and Civil Procedure and the EU legislation on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, Regulation (EC) 44/2001, also known as the Brussels RegulationForeign judgments are recognized and enforced in Malta in both civil and commercial matters. If you need help to understand the procedure of acceptance of foreign judgments, please get in touch with our lawyers in Malta.

The provisions of the Code of Organization on foreign judgments in Malta

The Maltese Code of Organization and Civil Procedure is based on the British Judgments or Reciprocal Enforcement Act in the United Kingdom. The Civil Code in Malta states that, in cases of foreign judgments, the regulations of the European Union will prevail. Foreign judgments will not be recognized and enforced by the Maltese courts if they fall out of the European Regulations’ scope or they fail to meet the Regulations’ provisions.

According to the Reciprocal Enforcement Actforeign rulings will be enforced in Malta if they were delivered by a competent court in the country where the trial had taken place and the matter was already judged by Maltese courts in the same way. The enforcement of a foreign judgment will be made only if an application for the enforcement of the judgment will be submitted. This provision from Chapter 12 of the Laws of Malta applies to judgments issued by courts in non-EU member states.

The provisions of the Brussels Regulation on foreign judgments in Malta

Chapter III in the Brussels Regulation (EC) 44/2001 sets the legal framework for the international recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in EU countries, therefore these provisions apply in Malta also.

This way, there will be no need for a foreign court to ask for a declaration of enforceability in Malta for the recognition of the foreign judgment. The applicant for the recognition and enforcement of the foreign judgment will be required to provide certain documents that will prove his/her claim, but the Maltese court is allowed to deny the enforcement if any requirement fails to be satisfied. The Brussels Regulation also provides legal grounds for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in certain cases only.

The limitation period to apply for recognition of foreign judgement 

Under the EU Brussels Regulation, which is Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012, there is no specific limitation period prescribed for making an application for the recognition of a foreign judgment in Malta. The Brussels Regulation (recast) provides a framework for determining jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters within the European Union.

However, it’s important to note that the lack of a specific limitation period for recognition does not mean that there are no time constraints or deadlines. The general principles of national law within each EU member state will often apply. This means that the national laws of the country where recognition is sought may have statutes of limitations or time limits for bringing such applications.

Also, note that there is no specific time limit for recognizing and enforcing a judgment as long as the original court’s decision is still valid. However, if the judgment comes from a non-EU court and falls under the rules of the Code of Organization and Civil Procedure, there’s a general time limit of 15 years to enforce it. After this time, you need to file a request with the court to enforce the judgment. Please get in touch with our attorney in Malta who can answer your questions related to the recognition of foreign judgments in Malta.

When can a foreign judgment be denied in Malta?

The recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment can be denied in Malta if the rights for a fair trial have been breached or if the judgment had been made without a proper defense being assured for the defendant. A foreign judgment can be denied if the ruling contains any provision that contradicts the regulations of international public law in Malta. If the judgment was obtained by fraud or contains a wrong application of the law, it will not be recognized in Malta according to Article 811 in the Civil Code of Procedure.

If you need details about the Maltese court system, you can consult our legal team. Our Maltese lawyers can also provide you with legal assistance in litigation cases.

Application of Hague Judgements Convention in Malta

The 2019 Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters is a pivotal international legal instrument designed to facilitate cross-border recognition and enforcement of judicial decisions. Representing a significant stride in global legal cooperation, this convention aims to provide a harmonized framework for the acknowledgment and implementation of foreign judgments in civil or commercial cases. Its scope encompasses matters such as: contract disputes and business-related litigation, excluding certain categories like family law and insolvency proceedings. The convention establishes clear rules for recognition, outlining grounds for refusal based on considerations such as public policy and procedural fairness. By fostering a more efficient and predictable process for enforcing judgments internationally, the convention contributes to legal certainty, promotes fair and transparent cross-border transactions, and enhances the effectiveness of international dispute resolution mechanisms.

Malta, being part of the European Union (EU), must follow the 2019 Hague Convention on Recognizing and Enforcing Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Cases, also known as the Hague Judgments Convention, starting from September 1, 2023. It’s essential to understand that even though the EU, including Malta, has agreed to this convention after Ukraine, EU countries still have to stick to the Brussels Recast Regulation when it comes to deciding jurisdiction and recognizing and enforcing judgments within the EU. The Hague Judgments Convention mainly deals with judgments that need recognition and enforcement outside the EU or with recognizing and enforcing non-EU judgments within the EU. If more countries accept this convention, it can play a significant role in improving international legal cases without being limited by geography, unlike the Brussels Recast Regulation and the Lugano Convention, which are specific to EU and European Free Trade Association Member States, respectively.

If you have any questions about the recognition of foreign judgments in Malta, please consult with our lawyers. The experienced lawyers at our law firm in Malta can offer you comprehensive information in this regard.  

Fee for the recognition of foreign judgement

Please find below the related costs collected by our Maltese lawyers if you are applying for the recognition of a foreign judgment in Malta:

  • The usual cost for applying to recognize a foreign judgment is generally less than €100;
  • As legal representation is compulsory in Malta, you should expect an average fee of €227 for a legal prosecutor;
  • When a witness is neither Maltese nor English speaking, then you should expect translation costs of € 34. 

For inquiries on fees or any legal support, consult our experienced lawyers in Malta.

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