Mainly owing to its convenient geographical location, as well as its membership in the EU, Malta has managed to develop a state of the art range of international integrated maritime services, complemented by several reputable marine facilities. Unsurprisingly, Malta's heritage as a key maritime jurisdiction within the Mediterranean has left it with a wealth of experience in all Maritime Law matters.
The Malta Ship Registry has experienced steady growth with the island boasting a Registry which is 6th largest in the world and the largest in Europe. Malta's success has been facilitated by the efficiency of registration of vessels in Malta, low company formation costs, attractive fiscal incentives to owners and preferential treatment to its ships in certain ports. Currently, there is also an on-going process of privatisation and development of various yacht marinas around Malta and Gozo.
Shipping & Maritime Law in Malta
Enacted in 1973, Malta’s Merchant Shipping Act was originally based upon the UK Merchant Act. Through this Act, the Malta Flag formally established itself as an ‘open’ register. The Malta Maritime Authority (‘the Authority’ or ‘MMA’) is responsible for the administration and functioning of the Malta Flag. After a series of amendments, revisions and supplementary legislation, the result was today’s legislation which caters for the specific needs of the shipping industry in the modern age.
Malta caters for registration of all types of vessels from pleasure yachts to oil rigs, including vessels under construction, provided such vessels are wholly owned by citizens of the EU or by duly constituted corporate entities.
Even though Malta does not impose trading restrictions or age restrictions for registration of vessels, ships that are older than fifteen years are subject to additional requirements and inspections. Furthermore, as a rule, trading ships of twenty-five years and over are not registered under the Maltese flag.
Our Shipping & Maritime Law Practice
Chetcuti Cauchi has a full-service maritime law practice holding strong links with all sectors of the maritime industry. The firm has specialised lawyers working in a whole range of maritime law services including:
Our Shipping & Maritime Lawyers
Aside from the day to day ship and yacht registrations that we work on, the firm’s work in this area includes high profile matters such as corporate structuring and tax planning. Indeed, acting as a one-stop stop, the services offered by the Chetcuti Cauchi’s maritime team are complemented by those of tax advisers and accountants that provide corporate structuring and tax planning solutions. Chetcuti Cauchi's maritime team acts as the project manager to very high valued transactions, often leading negotiations with counter-parties, banks and authorities.
Our maritime team specialises in the use of Malta companies in local and international ship and yacht ownership, yacht VAT leasing set-ups and vessel management. Our lawyers seek at all times to provide innovative and practical solutions to implement clients’ plans in the most efficient and advantageous manner. As regards shipping companies, the team is highly involved in the day to day running of its clients’ activities, providing the legal support necessary for the proper administration of the vessels and the companies themselves.
Our Shipping & Maritime Law Clients
Chetcuti Cauchi’s portfolio of clients in this area is of significant weight and includes recreational boaters, charterers, brokers, vessel owners, international shipping organisations, ship management companies, transportation companies and bankers. The vessels under our maritime team’s legal administration include cargo ships, super-yachts, cruising yachts and pleasure yachts. Chetcuti Cauchi is the preferred maritime law firm for banks, other financial institutions, vessel-owners and shipping companies seeking the most effective and advantageous set-up for their maritime activities in Malta.