Europe & UK

September 15, 2018

Competition Act, Consumer Affairs Act Amended: Malta


Draft Bill - EN version Final.pdf

Draft Bill - MT version Final

Law

The Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority Act came into force on 23 May, 2011, amending the Competition Act and the Consumer Affairs Act to introduce administrative proceedings.

A judgment was delivered in the names, Federation of Estate Agents v Direttur Ġenerali (Kompetizzjoni) et, by the Constitutional Court on 3 May, 2016, stating that since competition proceedings presently found in the Competition Act involved a criminal charge, they should comply with Article 39(1) of the Constitution.

The Constitutional Court’s considerations are meant to be addressed by the proposed Bill. The main features of the proposed bill are:

1) The Competition and Consumer Appeals Tribunal will be replaced by the Civil Court (Commercial Section), and the capability of the Civil Court (Commercial Section) will be extended to matters regulated by the Consumer Affairs Act, Competition Act, Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority Act etc.

2) The Court can substitute the respective Director General’s discretion with its own, and can also substitute the legal and economic appraisal contained within with its own assessment

3) Any party to the Court proceedings who feels aggrieved by the Court’s judgment and the respective Director General may appeal on points of law and fact before the Court of Appeal

4) The administrative fine imposed by the Director General will be suspended by filing of the sworn application before the Civil Court (Commercial Section)

5) The settlement will no longer limit to cartel cases and will apply to all competition law violations

6) Now inspections will be conducted only following a warrant issued by the Court of Magistrates

7) The amendments will explicitly include protection against self-incrimination

8) Procedural violations will be viewed as a criminal offence, with penalties under the Competition Act to be imposed after successful prosecution before the Court of Magistrates

9) The Director General will consider non-exhaustive examples of aggravating and mitigating factors while deciding the fine amount

Similarly, the Constitutional Court’s considerations are relevant to the administrative proceedings instituted by the Director General (Consumer Affairs). Certain related amendments are also being proposed. For example, the Director General be granted the power to extend the undertaking’s operative period to more than the current three years, and the Director General be granted the power to publish his decision. 28 September, 2018, is the last date for the public consultation process.

Draft Bill - EN version Final.pdf

Draft Bill - MT version Final

 

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