Malta International Trade in Legal Services

Malta International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector

The Legal Profession (Advocates) Regulation Act, 2012

Under what title do lawyers practise?

Advocate (Avakut)

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?





In order for a person to practice as an Advocate in Malta, he or she needs to be (a)of full legal capacity; (b) be a citizen of Malta or of a Member State or otherwise be eligible to work in Malta under any other law; and (c) have obtained the academic degree of Doctor of Law (LL.D.) from the University of Malta, or  a comparable degree from such other competent authority in accordance with the principles of mutual recognition of qualifications, after having read law in Malta or in another EU Member State; and (d) possess full knowledge of the Maltese language; and (e) the Chamber is satisfied that such he or she is fit and proper. The Act also requires candidates for admission as lawyers to be at least 18 years of age, to have studied law at University for at least three years and have undertaken a two year traineeship, passed an examination and meet the character and probity requirements.

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

The licence to practice in Malta is national.



Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?












The Act governing the practise of law by Maltest lawyers states tht "the following shall be reserved legal services which may only be provided in Malta by a Practising Advocate or Registered European Legal Professional:  (a) the provision of legal advice to another person for consideration;
(b) Advocacy in any of the superior courts of Malta or other tribunals which, by virtue of any law, are reserved for Practising Advocates;
(c) the preparation and drafting of any acts or pleadings to be filed in any court or tribunal mentioned in paragraph (b)
above; (d) the preparation, drafting, negotiation of any document or contract, whether it is to be executed as a public deed or private writing, and which is intended to document, create or acknowledge legal rights and obligations between the contracting parties.
2. For the purposes of this Schedule, the words "legal advice" mean the communication by one person to another (the latter referred
to as the "Recipient"), whether oral, written or in any legible form or medium, of an opinion which is the result of or whose formulation
would requires the assessment and application of principles of law and, or provisions of law to a particular factual situation or dispute,
and which: (a) expresses the position at law of the Recipient;
(b) directs, guides, counsels or recommends a particular course of action to the Recipient; or (c) has the effect of predicting a specific resolution of a
legal issue; or (d) expresses a view on the legal implications or legal risks of or associated with an act, omission, course of action, contract, deed, agreement, document, particular set of facts or dispute.

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?


What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

Under Section 26 of the Act, advocates may form partnerships. This section further provides that no person, other than a practising Advocate may: (a) become a partner in a law firm; (b) have any voting rights in a law firm; or (c) account for more than thirty per cent (30%) of a law firm’s management or executive organs. However, any person being a member of a designated profession may have ownership rights in a law firm provided that such ownership rights are not in excess of 25% of the aggregate ownership rights in such law firm; and provided that at all times the ultimate control and decision making within the law firm is exercised by practising Advocates.

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 

The Chamber of Advocates has the power to make general professional conduct rules.  A Code of Ethics for advocates was drawn up in consultation with the Commission for the Administration of Justice.

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

Law firms must be registered with the Chamber of Advocates.

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 




Licences to practice are issued by the Chamber of Advocates for both individual lawyers and law firms. The Chamber may be asked by the Committee for Advocates and Legal Procurators within the Commission for the Administration of Justice, to refuse a licence to an advocate whose conduct breaches requirements. The Commission was set up on the 3rd June 1994 by means of Act 369 of the Laws of Malta and has supervisory and disciplinary responsibilities for the courts, members of the judiciary and legal profession.   The Chamber of Advocates (Kamra tal-Avukati) statutorily nominates the majority of members of the Committee.



Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

The provision of temporary services in Malta by a lawyer from a non-EU Member State under his/her home title is not permitted. EEA lawyers may practise temporarily as a result of the Lawyers Services Directive (77/249/EEC).

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

Malta is one of the 25 countries in Europe that has signed the Schengen agreement. This allows a non-EEA national to obtain a visa to enter one or more of the Schengen countries for business or tourism purposes on a single visit of up to 90 days, or to make multiple entries to the Schengen area on any number of occasions over a 180 day period, provided none of these is for longer than 90 days.  A number of non-EEA countries are exempt from visa requirements.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

The Maltese legislation makes no mention of foreign legal consultancy licences for non-EEA nationals and only covers the requirements which implement the European Establishment Directive.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

An EEA lawyer who has established in Malta must register with the Chamber and adhere to the Maltese code of conduct. He must practise under his home title and maintain adequate indemnity insurance.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

An EEA lawyer must hold EEA nationality and an EEA legal qualification.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? The Maltese Arbitration Centre uses the UNCITRAL model for international commercial arbitration and foreign lawyers are permitted to act as arbitrators.

Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

EEA lawyers may appear in court provided they do so in association with a local lawyer. Other nationals do not have the right to appear.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?



A European lawyer who wishes to requalify as a Maltese lawyer may do so under article 10 of Directive 98/5/EC but must have been established as a Registered European Lawyer in Malta for a minimum of three years and have obtained experience in local law.  Lawyers from other EU or EFTAn member states or from Switzerland, who do not have three years' experience and residency in Malta may sit an aptitude test.   Lawyers from outside the EEA may apply to the Attorney General for special consideration.


Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

There is no licensing regime for foreign law firms from countries outside the EEA. The scope of practice of non EEA law firms is limited.

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

A foreign (EEA) law firm would need to register with the company register and complete the necessary tax and employment formalities.
Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)


Is there a quota on the number of licences available?


Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have?


Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they? There are no scope of practice rules that apply to firms as opposed to individual lawyers.
Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? Law firms in Malta may either take the form of general or civil partnerships.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? All law firms (whether EEA or Maltese) are covered by the provisions in section 28 of the Act:"The name of any law firm shall either include the name or
names of one or more practicing Advocates who is or who are partners in the firm (or any abbreviations thereof); or the name of a person who, having been a practising Advocate and a partner in the firm, may have since ceased to be a practising Advocate or a partner in the firm or both, and the existing partners have retained the same name of the partnership or the name of the ex-partner as part of the name of the law firm: Provided that a law firm may, with the consent of the Chamber, use any other name which is not calculated to mislead the general public and the persons requiring legal services as to the real
nature of the firm. "
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL EEA law firms must register with the Maltese Chamber of Advocates.


Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?





There are no restrictions on EEA lawyers owning law firms.  The Maltese legislation also provides that "no person, other than a practising Advocate may:
(a) become a partner in a law firm; (b) have any voting rights in a law firm; or (c) account for more than thirty per cent (30%) of a law firm’s management or executive organs.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in this article: (a) any person being a member of a designated profession may have ownership rights in a law firm provided that such ownership rights are not in excess of twenty-five per cent (25%) of the aggregate ownership rights in such law firm;
and (b) any person being a member of a designated profession may have voting rights within the ownership, management and organisational structure of the law firm, provided that at all times the ultimate control and decision making within the law firm is exercised by practising Advocates."  These designated professions are architects and accountants.

May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?

There is no prohibition on employment of a Maltese lawyer by an EEA lawyer or law firm.

Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?

A Maltese advocate may enter a partnership with an EEA lawyer. Partnership with other foreign lawyers is not permitted.

Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?

Yes but only as paralegals.



Other useful sources or comments or links

Camera Degli Avvocati - The Chamber of Advocates of Malta: http://www.avukati.org/chamberofadvocates/faq