New Office Opened in Valletta

The team at VMY is proud to welcome clients to our brand-new office at number 52, Old Bakery Street in Valletta. The opening of a second office was the culmination of almost three years of hard work to convert what was initially a disused and derelict building into a modern and comfortable workspace.

Preserving traditional Maltese architecture

We bought the property in September 2015 from a lawyer who also intended to use it as an office but never actually used it as such. The building is located at the middle of a street where all the major law firms in Valletta are situated, so it seems quite appropriate that this gem should also be considered a desirable location for a legal practice.

Even before we acquired this place, it already had somewhat of a reputation as a landmark in the area because it’s the tallest building in Old Bakery Street. Unfortunately, the building was abandoned and left to deteriorate for many years, and it was in a very bad state when we found it. The last time the building was used was by the owners of a cigarette factory around 40 years ago; fast forward to the present day, and all the apertures were broken, there was no functioning plumbing system, and a load bearing wall that was holding seven storeys had to be demolished.

Because of the huge amount of work it took just to make this building safe and prepare it for the installation of modern amenities, we had to keep this project under wraps and delay our move there for a long time. Once the structure was sound again, we immediately set to work preserving the traditional Maltese architecture that was present, including the typical stone walls and stone arches.

In keeping with the aesthetics of our Rabat office, we married the traditional look with modern features in the Valletta building too. The latter has since been converted into a clean and bright marble-clad space with various French eclectic touches.

Former home of Malta’s national poet

But the most surprising fact about Number 52 is that it used to be the home of Malta’s national poet, Dun Karm Psaila. It also apparently used to be known as no. 51, before the door changed to the present number.

Right above the building door, there is a marble plaque unveiled in 1967 that commemorates the fact that Dun Karm resided there for 26 years and wrote his first poems in Maltese while living there. This is also mentioned in Dun Karm’s biography by Ġużè Cardona, which points out that the poet rented an apartment in the building and spent a lot of time in solitude away from his friends and family. It was during this time that he wrote several of his famed poems like Quddiem Xbieha tal-Madonna and Il-Musbieħ tal-Mużew.

A humble gem shining with new purpose

The opening of the Valletta office marks a new chapter in the growth of VMY’s notarial practice. When we first began operating from the Rabat office, our scope was similar to other small, village practices that focus primarily on serving the legal needs of the people living in the surrounding community.

As our team grew and our clients’ needs increased proportionally, we started taking seriously the option of expanding to a more central location. Our new office at no. 52, Old Bakery Street in Valletta is at the heart of the nation’s legal and financial hub, which gives us a privileged position that lets us manage our work and serve our clients more efficiently.

We will still operate from the Rabat office a few days a week, however we heartily encourage our clients spread across Malta to take advantage of our new central location and come see us in Valletta.


Make a notary’s appointment here 

How Notaries Assist Anti-Money Laundering Efforts Through Customer Due Diligence

Much to the annoyance of notaries and their clients alike, I’m afraid that the reason I, and all other notaries, ask clients for information about their personal life and financial history is not out of curiosity, but rather, the law.

I completely understand that it is annoying to divulge certain details to a notary that may or may not be a perfect stranger to the client. However, notaries have a central role to play in anti-money laundering (AML) efforts and the funding of illegal gains. According to the law, notaries have the legal responsibility of scrutinizing their clients through what are referred to as customer due diligence protocols.

The present legal provisions oblige notaries to carry out a number of procedures to prevent illicit actions by means of customer due diligence, record keeping, training of employees and internal and external reporting.

Customer Due Diligence Protocols

As a subject person, a Notary is legally bound to hand out specific forms to be filled in during the proceedings of a new transaction, as this detailed information helps to assess the nature of the deal. All necessary information is collected and a record of the procedures is kept.

It is a notary’s duty to obtain satisfactory evidence of clients’ identities and sometimes even people related to them. Occasionally, the notary may also need additional information or documentation in the context of the particular transaction. It is understandable that clients may feel uncomfortable with the process of Customer Due Diligence (CDD). It is an unpleasant thing for most notaries too!

Being compelled to perform meticulous background checks on clients is uncomfortable, taxing and could cause adverse effects to the relationship. However, this procedure is considered protocol since particular transactions involving a notary may be used to carry out illicit and criminal activities.

Consequently, the notary must ask for proof of identity upon the first client meeting and may also require a confirmation of one’s permanent residence by means of additional documentation, such as a recent utility bill. It is also common practice that the notary would ask for proof of provenance and origins of funds. This procedure is in line of Legal Notice 108/2008, in which the Notary is considered to be a subject person and is duty bound to ensure that proper Customer Due Diligence protocol is followed through.

Anti-Money Laundering Obligations

Perhaps the greatest need for Customer Due Diligence stems from the necessity to tackle illegal money laundering practices. Customer Due Diligence is central in combating the practice of generating income through illegal methods.

Law and regulations have been established to ensure that money that is gained through unethical practices can be detected. This saw the inauguration of the anti-money laundering legislation which empowers professionals to identify customers, carry out thorough background checks and report any suspicious activities.

Anti-money laundering legislation has gained international notability, and on a European level, the EU introduced an anti-money laundering directive in 2015 which aimed to prevent the use of financial systems for the purposes of money laundering or funding terrorist activities.

Locally, Malta has also adopted the Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism Regulations (PMLFTR), which is modelled upon the principles of the European Union’s Directive. The Act outlines what constitutes money laundering, establishes the obligations of financial institutions as well as legal persons and the competences of the Police and the Attorney General in cases when a person is suspected of being involved in money laundering.

Under Maltese law, anyone who carries out any form of financial activity is subject to the anti-money laundering obligations. In this vein, notaries have been placed at the pivot of these pre-emptive measures. Since the Maltese Act identifies financial transactions, access to savings and current accounts and overviewing the financial conditions of clients as a relevant activities, inevitably, notarial practices fall within the scope of the Act.

Because of this situation, notaries find themselves in a predicament between professional secrecy between customer relations and legal obligations towards anti-money laundering measures. Anti-money laundering and Customer Due Diligence thus work in tandem with one another whereby the procedures of the latter are precautions towards any criminal financial activity.

Compliance towards Customer Due Diligence is therefore obligatory and deemed necessary in order to clear any form of foul play and illegality. Nevertheless, despite the strain on the professional relationship between client and notary, it is essential to keep in mind that all information and documentation obtained in the course of these obligations is strictly confidential and tied with professional secrecy.

A Sign of Good Conduct and Professionalism

Notaries have a duty to adhere to the regulations of anti-money laundering provisions. Through procedures that are collectively known as Customer Due Diligence protocols, notaries can help prove that financial activity originated from legitimate sources.

Although these procedures can sometimes be uncomfortable and possibly put a strain on client relations, they are also signs of personal good conduct and a commitment towards providing a reputable service as a notary.

Malta Budget 2017 – Guidance Note on Acquisition of Residential Property in Gozo

Following the declarations made in the Budget Speech 2017 relating to the acquisition of residential property in Gozo, the following guidelines are to be followed:

In the case of a transfer of residential property situated in Gozo, the duty otherwise chargeable in terms of the Duty on Documents and Transfers Act (Chapter 364 of the Laws of Malta) shall be chargeable at the rate of two euro (€2.00) for every one hundred euro (€100.00) or part thereof of the amount or value of the consideration for the transfer of the property or the value of the property, whichever is the higher.


General Terms and Conditions to qualify for the benefit

1. The above-mentioned reduced rate of duty applies to a transfer of residential property in Gozo when:

i. The notice of the promise of sale agreement in relation to such transfer is registered with the Commissioner for Revenue on or after the 18th October 2016 but before the 1st January 2018;
ii. The final deed in relation to such transfer is registered with the Commissioner for Revenue by the 31st December 2018;
iii. No relief is claimed under article 32C of the Duty on Documents and Transfers Act.


2. The benefit granted under this scheme does not apply to acquisitions of property made for the purpose of demolition and the construction of more than one unit, or to acquisitions of property in the course of a trade or business.


3. The benefit granted under this scheme does not apply to acquisitions made by a body of persons.


4. Residential property includes a garage attached to or underlying such residence or a garage situated in the same block of residential apartments of which the residence forms part or a garage of not more than thirty square metres situated within five hundred metres of such residence or block of apartments, and acquired together with such residence on the same deed.


5. In the case of a transfer of land, the benefit under this scheme would only apply if one residential unit is to be built thereon. The benefit shall be forfeited in the case of a breach of this condition.


Promises of Sale made before 18th October 2016

Where a notice of a promise of sale or transfer relating to a residential property in Gozo has been registered with the Commissioner for Revenue before the 18th October 2016 and is either cancelled or expired after the said date, such notice shall be deemed to have been registered with the Commissioner before the 18th October 2016 if the said property is:

a) transferred to the same person or persons appearing on the said promise of sale which has been cancelled / expired; or

b) another property forming part of the same project or situated within the same building is transferred to the same person or persons appearing on the said promise of sale which has been cancelled or has expired.

Need help with Gozo property sale/purchase?

Contact Mizzi Young today!


This blog entry has been reproduced from this official Internal Revenue Department document.

Notaries Meet Citizens – Open Days. An Event Hosted by the Kunsill Nutarili ta’ Malta

kunsill open days



The Council of the Notariats of the European Union (CNUE) is co-ordinating events by a number of Notariats within member states of the European Union to commemorate the European Day of Civil of Justice, which is celebrated on 25 October.

For this day, the Commission and the Council invite the Member States and professional organisations to organise events around this date for European citizens

The Kunsill Nutarili ta’ Malta will be participating in this in this event by providing the opportunity for the general public to visit the Information Stands on

(i) Property Conveyancing;

(ii) Estate Planning and Succession and

(iii) Matrimonial Regimes

which shall be open for the general public on both days from 10am to 2pm at the Parliament Building, Valletta.


For more information on the Notaries of Europe Open Days and the events being organised, visit


Property Measures in the Malta Budget for 2017

Budget night came and went, and left with it a raft of policies, tax breaks, funding opportunities, and new taxes. But, what of property? Dr Veronica Mizzi Young’s office scrutinised the budget document in order to list the below budget measures regarding property for 2017.


First time buyers’ schemes

The much loved first time buyers’ scheme has been extended to another year. This means that individuals or couples who purchase their first property in 2017 are exempt from paying stamp duty on the first €150,000 of value of the property they buy.


Urban Conservation Areas Scheme

Two new schemes are to be launched through which first-time buyers of property situated in Urban Conservation Areas and which requires restoration, or schemed buildings in Grade 1 or Grade 2 areas can get up to €100,000 on expenses incurred on restoration works.



Buying property in Gozo

Purchases of residential properties in Gozo will benefit from a stamp duty of 2% instead of 5%. This applies to purchases for whom a promise of sale is entered into during 2017, and which is registered with the Inland Revenue Department by end of December 2017, and is only applicable if the contract is concluded by end of 2018.

Buying property in Gozo in 2017? Benefit from a stamp duty of 2% instead of 5%

Buying property in Gozo in 2017? Benefit from a stamp duty of 2% instead of 5%


Temporary Emphyteusis

Those in possession of a temporary emphyteusis over property that has either expired or is due to expire, shall have their emphyteusis renewed under the same conditions, though such renewals are subject to a revisions of the payable ground rent.


Scheme for shops outside of Valletta

The scheme for shops located outside of Valletta will be relaunched and continued. It applies to government-owned shops held under a title of lease or emphyteusis. Current recognised tenants or third party operators can benefit from a 45 year temporary emphyteusis provided certain terms and conditions are satisfied.


Inheritance of property

Property inherited after November 1992 and which is being transferred using a judicial sale at auction shall now be taxed at a final tax rate of 7% instead of the current capital gains tax system.


Rental contracts

A new system governing rental contracts shall come into force in 2017, wherein all contracts of rent entered into for periods of 3 months or longer, including renewals, are to be registered with the Inland Revenue Department. Either the lessor or lessee may register the contract, though in cases of failure to register, the lessor will subject to penalties as expounded in the Income Tax Act.



We’re attempted to simplify the language and clearly explain the property policies and schemes as announced in the Malta Budget 2017. Of course, if you have any need for further explanation, contact us.


VMY Welcomes New Team Member Nicholas Schembri


Nicholas Schembri is a legal secretary and office manager who is dedicated to taking care of the administrative side of VMY Notary and ensuring that the office runs as smoothly as possible whilst making sure that VMY Notary clients get the best service.

Nicholas is currently reading for a Masters Degree in Business after realising his career path through his first full-time job as a clerk at MCAST where he was later promoted to a clerical officer in the Human Resources Department. Nicholas is a self-taught amateur pianist and when he is not working, he composes his own music and plays football.

You can reach Nicholas by email on: or on the following numbers: 21451880 / 79970162

Pre-contractual Liability Right Recognised


Basing itself on a German judgement, the Maltese Court of Appeal recently delivered a landmark judgement on pre-contractual liability which is sure to shape local commerce. The case filed in the names Av. Peter Fenech noe vs. Department of Contracts concerned a claim for damages made by a consortium after its offer in response to a tender issued by the Department of Contracts for the provision and installation of a Traffic Management Information System was unjustly turned down. Despite the fact that the First Hall, Civil Court had established that the consortium had  been unreasonably disqualified on 27th June 2008,  the consortium could not materially be reconsidered in the selection process as the tender had been given to another entity in the interim.

Although the judgment handed by the Court of First Instance had cited previous decisions delivered by the Maltese courts dealing with pre-contractual liability, namely Giuffrida vs. Borg Olivier, Pullen pro et noe vs. Matysik et, Cassar vs. Campbell Preston, Grixti vs. Grech, Busuttil vs. Muscat noe, Portelli noe vs. Falzon et and Seguna et vs. Kunsill Lokali Żebbug as a basis for its decision, the facts of the case in question did were deemed not give rise to pre-contractual liability.

Findings by the Court of Appeal with regards to Pre-contractual Liability

However, when the case was taken to the Court of Appeal, the Court cited a 1911 German court decision referred to as Linoleumfall which established that when a legal relationship is born between parties in preparation for a purchase, it is very similar in properties to a contract producing legal obligations, thereby recognising the contractual basis of pre-contractual liability. Thus, it was decided that the Director of Contracts should in fact be held responsible for damages on the basis of the legal notion of pre-contractual liability. The court further stated that once a consensual legal relationship was created between the parties, the Department of Contracts could not ignore the consortium’s offer unless there was a valid legal reason. Thus, if one does not fulfil the conditions of his tacit obligation, it is equivalent to a party not observing contractual obligation. This was decided on the on 29th April 2016.

The Court ordered the Department of Contracts to provide compensation based on the damages which the company had ​incurred as losses in the submission of the tender bid, rather than loss of profits or lucrum cessans. This judgment is expected to be the cornerstone for further recognition by Maltese courts of the contractual basis of the notion of pre-contractual liability.

Property Sales to Foreigners in Malta


The Law on Property Sales and Foreigners

According to provisions made in Chapter 246 of the Laws of Malta with regards to property sales, citizens of all European Union member states who have resided in Malta on a continuous, uninterrupted basis of a minimum period of five years BEFORE the date of acquisition of immovable property may freely acquire such property without the necessity of obtaining an acquisition permit (AIP). However, individuals who are not citizens of a European member state may not acquire any immovable property unless they are granted an acquisition permit issued by the Maltese tax authorities. With regards to those who need an AIP, the minimum price is also set in stone with foreigners being legally obliged to spend at least €104,500 for the purchase of a flat or maisonette and at least €174,000 for the purchase of any other immovable property.

Areas of Interest for Foreigners

While some may view these price ranges as being somewhat restrictive, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna recently said in parliament that almost 1,000 properties worth €400 million have been sold to foreigners over the last four years and that almost half of that number were in areas such as St Julian’s, Sliema, Swieqi, Gżira, Msida, Pietà, Ta’ Xbiex, Pembroke, San Ġwann, Qormi, Birkirkara, Ħamrun and Santa Venera, showing an overall preference by foreigners for the Northern Harbour district. Given that these areas are notoriously pricier than the south, it comes as no surprise that the value of the 482 properties mentioned by Mr Scicluna amounted to the princely sum of €175 million with an average of €363,881 being spent on each. The lowest number of property sales was registered in Żejtun, Birżebbuġa, Gudja, Għaxaq, Kirkop, Marsascala, Marsaxlokk, Mqabba, Qrendi, Safi and Żurrieq where a mere 38 properties were purchased and the total sum spent in this area was valued at €5.5 million. Moreover, in an interesting twist, a total of 115 properties collectively worth €25 million were bought by foreigners in the sister island of Gozo and despite the fact that properties in Gozo are markedly cheaper than in Malta, the average price of each property purchased was €220,801.

Why is this happening?

Given past trends, this boom in market dynamics and property sales is being ascribed to the revamped residency and visa programme launched last August which allows third country nationals to gain residence permits against an investment in interest-free government bonds of €250,000. Due to the fact that individuals given a residence visa can travel in the Schengen area as well as reside in Malta itself, it is of little wonder that investments in our little island have sky rocketed and property sales have increased.

Civil Code Amendments on Inherited Vacant Properties

Inherited Vacant Properties


With regards to the matter of inherited vacant properties, the coming into force of the Civil Code amendment to the current laws regulating inheritance on the 1st of April 2016 was seen as a welcome change for many heirs who previously had to wait for five or ten years to find any possible resolution to internal disagreements regarding the sale of their empty properties. Indeed, thanks to Act No. XIV of 2016,


“The periods of ten years previously provided for in articles 495(3) and 495A(1) (prior to their amendment) and of five years previously provided for in article 495B (prior to its substitution) respectively and as in force prior to the 1st April 2016 shall no longer apply as from the 1st April 2016”


Instead, heirs are now allowed to conduct the sale of inherited vacant properties after a mere three years, provided that more than 51% of the heirs are in agreement.

So what does this mean for Maltese families and their inherited vacant properties?

Prior to this amendment which was proposed in the 2016 budget in an effort to free up a number of the estimated 41,232 inherited vacant properties on the island, many families were forced to spend years wrangling over whom to sell to and what kind of cut they would receive, with the effect of some of the heirs actually passing away themselves and the properties in question degrading to irretrievable states. These inherited vacant properties do not only pose safety issues due to a lack of maintenance, but such empty spaces also have a habit of attracting vandals, squatters and other mischief makers looking for a private space to hide out. This recent amendment also makes for one of the most effective pro-environment measures proposed by this legislature.

In essence, this recent amendment to the Civil Code hopes to significantly reduce the number of vacant properties which populate our island in a much shorter time frame than ever before, whilst safeguarding the rights of the majority who do want to sell.


Deposit And Kapparra (Earnest) – The Facts As Seen Through Case Law

The Promise of Sale better known as the “konvenju”, is a concept that has been used consistently in Malta, with the Civil Code making a firm distinction between the konvenju itself and the final contract of sale.

Based on the divide of deposit and “kapparra” (the sum paid in earnest of the sell), our Civil Code emphasizes that ‘a promise to sell a thing for a fixed price shall not be equivalent to the sale itself’ as, while a promise of sale is a unilateral contract, an actual sale is a bilateral agreement by virtue of both parties taking part. In a promise of sale or “konvenju”, the buyer and seller are brought together and a reciprocal obligation is created. Thus, if the sale can no longer be carried out, there is an obligation to make good on the damages the aggrieved party may have suffered as a result.

Why is the Deposit (or Earnest) Paid?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no legal requirement for money to be paid at the signing of a “konvenju”.

However, there are legal consequences for both parties should such a sum be paid. This sum can be part of the final price, known as a deposit – usually around 10% of the final price

When a sum is paid in earnest, or as “kapparra”, neither of the parties is legally bound to appear at the final contract of sale; both parties are however bound by a penalty clause. Should the promisee withdraw from the agreement and fail to appear on the final contract of sale, he or she loses the sum paid in earnest to the promisor; conversely, should the promisor withdraw, they would then be liable to repay the promisee double the sum which he or she had deposited in earnest.



Contrary to popular belief, there is no legal requirement for money to be paid at the signing of a “konvenju”.

In the case of Brands International Ltd vs Tas-Sellum Development Co Ltd, Mecca Investments Limited signed a promise of sale with Tas-Sellum Development Co Ltd on the 8th June 2005. The promise of sale itself was signed in relation to the purchase of Apartment 23, in Block 9, at Tas-Sellum, Mellieħa where a deposit of €28,185.42 was paid for the purchase of a €121,000 apartment. A mere two years later, Mecca Investments Ltd changed its name to Brands International Ltd.

Despite the fact that the “konvenju” had been made, Tas-Sellum Development Co Ltd never contacted Brands International Ltd to conclude the sale, thus lapsing the promise of sale.

In December 2012, in an effort to regain the money paid, Brands International Ltd sent a judicial letter asking to be reimbursed the deposit they had paid seven years previously. This follow up request was also ignored and it was at this point that Brands International Ltd filed a civil suit demanding the return of the deposit paid with interest.


Since Tas-Sellum Developers did not uphold their right to call on the buyers to complete the purchase, they had no legal right to hold on to the deposit.

Since Tas-Sellum Developers did not uphold their right to call on the buyers to complete the purchase, they had no legal right to hold on to the deposit.


The First Hall of the Civil Court ordered Tas-Sellum Development Co. Ltd to reimburse Brands International Ltd the sum of €28,185.42, together with interest, dating from 8 June 2005 till the actual date of payment, after presiding judge Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti ruled that since Tas-Sellum Developers did not uphold their right to call on the buyers to complete the purchase, they had no legal right to hold on to the deposit effected specifically for a sale which had never taken place.

In the end, the buyer was reimbursed to the tune of €28,185.42, as well as the interest from 2005 until the date of payment.

What is a valid reason at law to reimburse a deposit?

In another case last year, Gerit Company Ltd (buyer) vs A.M. Developments Ltd (seller), the deposit was paid back even though the buyer was unable to find the necessary funds to conclude the sale and therefore it had a ‘valid reason at law’.

The two parties drew up a promise of sale agreement for the purchase of a property in Ħal Qormi. A deposit of €23,293 was paid ‘on account of the price’ of the immovable property.

When the phrase ‘on account of’ is mentioned in the contract, it means the sum paid is a deposit on the final sum to be paid when finalising of the sale. Both parties are obliged to appear on the final contract and if any of the signatories don’t, it might be justified only so long as there’s a valid reason at law.

The promise of sale expired and both buyer and seller called upon each other. However, the sale fell through and the case was taken to the First Hall Civil Court. The main issue was whether there was a valid reason at law for the buyer not to appear on the final deed of sale.

This came in the form of a warrant personally issued by the director’s spouse from the buying company. This prohibited financing the sale and the sale fell through and the buyer was not responsible. This was justified as a valid reason at law and all parties had to go back to the status quo ante.

Drawing up a promise of sale in Malta

Promises of sale in Malta, though commonplace, can also be a pitfall for inexperienced parties. That is why a good notary is needed; so as to act in the best interest of the parties while navigating the quagmires of the law.

Veronica Mizzi Young is a Notary Public who specialises in the transfer of property and promise of sale in Malta. She has great expertise in acting on behalf of both the buyer and the seller. You can call upon Veronica at her office in Rabat, where she would gladly offer you a helping hand and personalised legal assistance, or contact her here.