Fundamental changes for Malta notaries - Updated March 22, 2012

Restrictions to a notarial profession here in Malta, currently rendering it exclusive to Maltese nationals, is set to change following a recent ECJ (European Court of Justice) ruling, and subsequent press release on May 24, 2011.
Infringement procedures against Malta were commenced by Brussels back in 2006, citing a breach of establishment rules due to such restrictions, however the commission had refrained from taking further action, pending this ECJ ruling.

The right to notarial exclusivity to nationals in their respective countries was also argued by Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg and Portugal, on the basis that notaries were public officials and therefore exempt from anti-discrimination laws. However the ECJ countered that the binding nature of legal contracts is derived from their basis in law, and not from any power devolved to notaries, who are solely authenticators of the legal documents.

The Sunday Times of Malta, June 5, 2011,  also reports  an EU official stating that the Maltese authorities will soon be receiving a written request to implement the necessary changes and remove the nationality requirement. The other member states concerned will also be notified, bringing an end to such exclusivity and empowering EU citizens to act as notaries in any other EU state.

Update: March 22, 2012
Source: The Times of Malta online. March 22.

The European Commission today decided to close infringement proceedings against Malta relating to the nationality condition for access to the notarial profession.
Similar proceedings against Germany, France and Austria were closed in February while Belgium and Luxembourg also changed their laws following a European Court judgement.
The Commission said that it has decided to close the case against Malta, started in 2006, as the island has now scrapped the nationality condition for notaries. Before that, only Maltese citizens could practice the notarial profession in Malta.
In its judgment, the Court decided that notarial work was not covered by the exceptions to the 'right of establishment'.
Consequently, the nationality condition for access to the profession constituted discrimination on the grounds of nationality.


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