A legal notice allowing domestic courts to freeze a debtor’s bank account held in another EU country has entered into force with immediate effect. By virtue of this legal notice, we are ensuring that Malta, as an EU member state, honours its obligations of implementing European Union regulations.
“It is our duty to keep on strengthening and facilitating our judicial processes for the benefit of citizens”, stressed Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici. Furthermore, Minister Bonnici highlighted that “this process will facilitate debt recovery in civil and commercial matters in the European Union and therefore the creditor will be more safe and secure.”
The regulation in question (Regulation No. 655/2014) establishes a European procedure allowing a creditor in cross-border cases to obtain a European Account Preservation Order, which may be of a precautionary or executive nature, to preclude the transferring or withdrawing of funds held in the debtor’s bank account in any member state.
This process protects the creditor by ensuring the prevention of transfers or withdrawals of funds by the debtor, which could potentially jeopardise any legal remedy that the creditor may seek to utilise against the same debtor.
This legal notice established the First Hall of the Civil Court of Malta as the court, which shall have jurisdiction to issue the abovementioned European Account Preservation Orders. The necessary information regarding the debtor’s accounts shall be given by the Registrar, the Civil Courts and the Tribunals. On the other hand, the Attorney General’s Office will be responsible for receiving, transmitting and notifying these orders.
This legal notice contains measures to ensure, amongst other things, the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments between member states, effective access to justice, and the elimination of obstacles to the proper functioning of civil proceedings. In this way, the compatibility of the rules on civil procedure applicable in the member states will be promoted.
Another legal notice that has been implemented simultaneously provides that the Attorney General’s Office will be entitled to recover the expenses incurred by his office in executing the European Account Preservation Orders in terms of Regulation (EU) No. 655/2014. In fact, the Attorney General’s Office will now be able to recover a fixed payment of €100.
Said efforts are being made in a bid to further strengthen our country’s laws and to better protect our citizens.