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Here, I share my thoughts on topics of interest. Don’t forget to sign up for updates from us using the sidebar to the right and please get in touch if you have a specific need.

Representative Actions Directive – the deadline is coming soon!

The Representative Actions Directive comes into force half way through 2023 and the deadline for implementation by EU Member States is at the end of this year.

Malta has just launched a public consultation – which ends on the 25th November – and it is hardly likely that the law will be adopted be on time.

Not new to Maltese Law!

There already is a Collective Procedures Act – Chapter 520 of the Laws of Malta – which contemplates a number of collective actions. The Bill seeks to limit the actions under that law to competition claims, while the new bill itself will deal with collective actions tackling consumer redress. The adequacy or otherwise of this proposal, in terms of compliance with EU law, will remain to be seen.

Methodology

The Directive (RAD) empowers qualified entities to file actions on behalf of individuals entitled to claim. This is in contrast with (and intending to move away from) the US model where a head plaintiff files a case on behalf of several other plaintiff.

The EU is seeking to move away from ‘class actions’ as certain features of the US legal system have given rise to negative connotations around this. Examples would include: punitive damages, pre-trail discoveries and blackmail. The EU seeks to control abusive litigation by certain safeguards being placed in the RAD.

Qualified Entities

Qualified entities will have to choose whether they will deal with purely domestic actions or those with an international aspect (i.e. where they file claims in States other than where they are based). In the latter case they will have to meet the checklist established by the Commission to qualify as an entity that can bring actions of this type. Those entities limiting themselves to domestic claims may still need to meet criteria that are in line with those in the Directive.

The financing of the claim remains a bone of contention. Some consumer organisations may find this a daunting process even without the money aspect. The Bill seeks to exonerate the entities from paying registry fees upon filing, while reducing heavily those fees if the claim is lost.

Many of the Malta organisations may well find themselves struggling in the event of a consumer claim. Examples could be: lack of funding for lawyers (prior to the claim), small membership, lack of young members who might be willing to take on very large cases.

Malta chose to use the opt-in method. A consumer must select to be included as part of the Claim. We still need to see how pro-active consumers will be in joining claims where the benefit is not very significant.

Reactions to the Public Consultation?

The open consultation is worth reading – collective redress is not new to the Maltese legal system and there have been court cases that welcomed it and even interpreted the powers of the court, within those claims, in a rather wide fashion.

Seminar / Workshop on the RAD

I will be giving training on the directive and its implementation – with reference to the Malta situation – over this week. It will be an intensive three mornings of discussions, contributions and learning for all and sundry!

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Malta and its Maritime Policies

Malta’s maritime policies are gaining momentum! Read more to find out what I’ve been doing.

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Sanctioned Russian Oligarch wins right to use yacht on the French Riviera

A sanctioned Russian oligarch has won the right to use his yacht on the French Riviera. Rather, he has successfully challenged French customs due to a number of errors made in the procedure when they boarded the yacht.

The EU sanctions apply across EU member states. French customs authorities are reported to have failed to follow the correct procedures. The court ordered the release of the yacht.

Read the article here.

A superyacht lies at anchor.
Image taken from stock - (C) Shutterstock
A superyacht – image from stock.

Legal professionals from different parts of the world have argued that individuals facing such sanctions should succeed in these challenges. Assets are being seized without due process of law. Further, these seizures are taking effect without following any proper court process.

Clearly, there could be a deprivation of the right to one’s own property, without the proper court case to establish whether anyone has committed a crime.

These actions, merely on the basis that an individual has links to (in this case) the Russian government, appear to constitute a right about turn from the fundamental human right to property. This is arguable. The use of wealth to continue to back up the atrocities of war remains worrying. Sanctions of this type might be the only way to stop this practice.

What do you make of these stances and the worldwide seizure of assets of these Russian individuals?

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Malta Maritime Summit

The Malta Maritime Summit is happening this week and I’ve been invited to speak!

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Operation Pedestal – 80th Anniversary Celebrations

Operation Pedestal 1942 is an historic – and heroic – World War II Allied operation that is
commemorated yearly in Malta, to remember the bravery of all those merchant seafarers, and naval
as well as other military and civilian personnel who successfully delivered much-needed supplies to
the tiny island of Malta.

Dr Geraldine Spiteri holds a wreath on behalf of the Nautical Institute


In Malta, it is known as Il-Konvoj ta’ Santa Maria (Santa Maria Convoy), because it coincides with the
feast of the Blessed Virgin, on the 15 th of August. The Italians, who at that time were part of the Axis
forces, refer to it as the “Mid-August Battle” (Battaglia di Mezz’Agosto). The most crucial cargo
during Operation Pedestal was fuel, carried by SS Ohio, an American tanker, manned bya British
crew. The convoy sailed from Britain on the 3 August 1942 and passed through the Strait of
Gibraltar into the Mediterranean on the night of 9/10 August. The Axis forces pursued the convoy,
causing tremendous losses to the Allied fleet with an estimated loss of over 500 seamen. Many
losses were incurred and only five of fourteen merchant ships that originally set sail on the convoy
actually reached Malta.

A patrol boat of the Armed Forces of Malta Maritime Squadron sits at berth in preparation for Operation Pedestal

Despite being costly for the Allies, it was a great victory, specifically because of Malta’s strategic
location in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, allowing the Allied forces to eventually take
control of North Africa and prepare for the invasion of Sicily.
Every year, the Royal Navy Association (Malta GC Branch) carries out a commemorative service with
the the Maritime Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) and the Royal Navy Officers’
Association (Malta), Representatives from the British High Commission in Malta as well as other
embassies and dignitaries representing other organisations participate in this yearly event. This year
the President of Malta made an address to those present and this was followed by prayers by the
Chancellor of the Anglican Church in Malta as well as by one of the representative Chaplains of the
Catholic Church in Malta. A ceremony, during which wreaths were laid at the sea in Grand Harbour,
Valletta, followed.


The laying of wreaths by the various organisations represented in the ceremony, this year, was
carried out, from the bow of the P23, a patrol vessel of the Maritime Squadron of the AFM.
Members of the Armed Forces of Malta played the bagpipes and a gun salute was given as a sign of
respect to the fallen. Members of the Royal Navy Officers Association (Malta) and the RNA Malta
(GC Branch) attended carrying their Association flags and wearing their medals, while the family
members of the last surviving crew member of the SS Ohio were also in attendance.

Dr Geraldine Spiteri throws a wreath into the Grand Harbour during Operation Pedestal


The Nautical Institute (Malta Branch), represented by the Branch Chairperson, Dr Geraldine Spiteri,
was present at this ceremony celebrated on the 11 th of August. The event was held at Pinto 3
Terminal, at the Valletta Grand Harbour Waterfront. This year, alongside the 80 th Anniversary of
Operation Pedestal, the Nautical Institute celebrates its 50 th Anniversary.

The wreaths prepared to be laid in Grand Harbour for Operation Pedestal 80

Geraldine currently works with Acumum Legal & Advisory, a role she has taken on in November 2021, in order to head up the Maritime & Yachting and the Aviation portfolios.

Armed Forces of Malta - Maritime Squadron standing to salute with their bayonets at Operation Pedestal - 80th Anniversary.

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