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Malta: Regulator proposes abolishing competition appeals tribunal

 |  August 15, 2018

Malta’s government is consulting on a series of amendments to its competition law, in part to remedy constitutional defects brought to light in 2016.

It is being proposed that the Competition and Consumer Appeals Tribunal will be abolished, and instead, decisions made by the regulator may be challenged before the Civil Court (Commercial Section).

The Court of Appeal decided in May 2016, that certain provisions of the Competition Act were unconstitutional. It was deciding a case the Federation of Estate Agents had instituted, feeling aggrieved by the Director for Competition’s decision to proceed against it over alleged breaches of the law. The federation argued only a proper court could decide such matters, which, it pointed out, could result in an administrative fine of up to €1.25 million (US$1.4 million).

Its application was upheld by the Civil Court in 2015, and the decision was confirmed on appeal a year later. In view of this, the Director General for Competition announced he would not impose sanctions until changes were made to bring the law in line with the Constitution.

Furthermore, in line with what is being proposed, decisions made by the directors general responsible for competition and for consumer affairs could be challenged on points of law and fact.

While the court would have the power to revoke decisions by the directors, any administrative fines would be automatically suspended pending the outcome of the appeal.

In case of settlement, the 10% reduction in the fine would be revised upwards to an amount varying between 10% and 35%, with the objective being to encourage settlements over court disputes.

Full Content: The Times of Malta

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