Transport Malta's Ports and Yachting Directorate recently issued a port notice to remind recipients about the Dispute Resolution (Procedures) Regulation. The regulation applies to bunkering operations where a dispute has arisen between the bunkering fuel operator and provider and the receiving vessel. The procedure provides for an alternative dispute resolution mechanism that aims to be swift, economical, transparent and simple.
The Court of Magistrates recently decided a case wherein an employer claimed that a former employee had abandoned work within six months of returning from statutory maternity leave and, as such, claimed back all of the wage payments that it had made to her during that time pursuant to Maltese law. The defendant rejected the claim, arguing that she had not willingly resigned or abandoned her employment.
In light of COVID-19, Identity Malta's Department of Citizenship and Expatriates has released a number of measures which seek to assist third-country nationals and EU, EEA and Swiss nationals currently residing in Malta with their respective obligations in terms of the Immigration Act and its subsidiary legislation. In addition to these changes, the Central Visa Unit has implemented more rigid measures in light of the travel restrictions imposed. This article provides an overview of the salient changes.
One year has now passed since the European Parliament passed the EU Work-Life Balance Directive for parents and carers, but what did it really achieve? In Malta, this directive has been a breath of fresh air for employees, who are now able to better balance their work and family responsibilities. In turn, employers should benefit from more motivated and productive workers. However, the question remains: is the directive's impact on Malta significant or too small?
Faced with the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, many EU states are increasingly adopting stringent measures to ensure that the spread of COVID-19 is, to the extent possible, contained. Malta is no exception in this regard, with most sectors having been affected to some extent. The local shipping industry has also been hit with several restrictions in recent weeks.
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the superintendent of public health has published the Minimum Special Leave Entitlements (Amendment) Regulations 2020. These regulations amend the Minimum Special Leave Entitlement Regulations, introducing a new paid quarantine leave for all employees, payable by their employer.
In 2013 Malta promulgated the Protection of the Whistleblower Act. However, as few EU member states have similar whistleblower protection legislation, on 16 December 2019 the EU Whistleblowing Directive entered into force. So what does this mean for Malta?
The new Trade Secrets Act entered into force in May 2019. This article examines what the new act means for employment relationships with regard to copyright, patents and trade secrets. Among other things, employers should prepare written policies to inform employees of their rights and obligations, explain what IP rights are and clarify that any creations belong to the company.
The Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship Act provides a framework for the development of effective work placements, apprenticeships and internships. It outlines responsibilities and governance structures, while defining the rights and obligations for vocational education and training providers, sponsors and learners. Despite its introduction in March 2018, few employers and students are aware of this legislation.
Maltese law is straightforward in terms of who has a right to arrest and which claims can be secured by means of an arrest. However, while ship arrests are a powerful legal remedy for creditors, they have one major limitation: they are possible only where the targeted vessel actually enters Maltese waters. As such, the legal system has introduced the Section 37 injunction, which provides creditors with an interesting, cost-efficient remedy where a ship arrest is not possible.
In light of the continuous developments and ambiguity surrounding the Brexit negotiations, as well as the uncertainty facing British citizens who currently reside in EU member states, the Maltese government recently propagated regulations concerning the residence and employment rights which will be upheld for British citizens who already reside and work in Malta. The regulations are set to come into force in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
If an event of default occurs, a power of attorney executed by the mortgagor will allow the mortgagee to apply for the immediate closure of the vessel's Maltese register on the mortgagor's behalf and to pay all fees, make all declarations and receive all certificates, including the deletion certificate. While not essential for enforcement, registration of the irrevocable power of attorney is nevertheless an option for mortgagees and provides the added benefit of allowing for swifter enforcement in cases of default.
Industrial Tribunal cases tend to be sensitive in nature as they essentially deal with a person's livelihood; however, when the Industrial Tribunal is faced with matters which have also been referred to the courts of criminal jurisdiction, such cases are even more complex. In particular, there are questions around how an employer should regulate itself regarding an employee's employment when it is confronted with a pending decision by the criminal court.
The Court of Appeal recently upheld an Industrial Tribunal decision and confirmed that a company operating in the iGaming industry had been entitled to dismiss an employee who had, on one occasion, forgotten to upload games to the company's platform. Nonetheless, this is a contentious judgment which, at face value, seems to diminish the burden that an employer must prove continuous or repetitive misconduct or underperformance substantiated by valid warnings.
The Industrial Tribunal recently examined the concept of reasonable accommodation and what employers should do to accommodate their employees appropriately. In this case, the employee claimed that he had been discriminated against due to his heart condition and unfairly dismissed. The tribunal ruled in the employee's favour and awarded him €20,000 for unfair dismissal and another €10,000 for discrimination.
Asset-backed securitisation in the shipping sphere has recently come to prominence in light of traditional financiers' reluctance to finance shipping activities. The amalgamation of Malta's securitisation framework and merchant shipping laws makes up for a sui generis alternative corporate vehicle to facilitate such transactions and provide the stability and security for which investors yearn.
The practice of inserting a reference to a physical supplier's applicable terms and conditions in a bunker delivery note is rife within the local bunkering community. Historically, case law on the subject has been sparse. However, a recent court judgment supports the view that bunker suppliers cannot pursue a vessel or its owners for unpaid bunkers unless that claim is privileged or the order came directly from the vessel, its owner or its agent.
A mortgage over a Malta-flagged vessel may be drawn up to secure the payment of a principal sum and interest, an account current or the performance of any other obligation – including a future obligation – due to a creditor by the debtor. The parties to an underlying security document may enter into negotiations resulting in changes to the terms set out in the security document. The question that therefore arises is whether a mortgage amendment should be registered to reflect the new terms.
Four new legal notices were recently published in the Government Gazette. However, these were short lived, as just a few days later, ministry representatives reportedly declared that the legal notices would be suspended. While it is uncertain whether the Annual Leave National Standard Order will be enacted, it is worthwhile to analyse the proposed changes, as these would alter current employment law should they come into force.
Recent amendments to the Civil Code concerning contracts of lease have bolstered the rights of lessors of aircraft such that they are now not materially different to those granted to the holders of security interests in terms of the Cape Town Convention. Aircraft leases are now akin to security interests and grant important rights and remedies to lessors and financiers. The changes better reflect the commercial realities underlying the aircraft lease relationship and should continue to improve Malta's legislative framework in this area.