The government has been prompted to introduce additional legal protections due to an increase in lawsuits filed abroad against Malta operators. The amendment is intended to protect businesses from liability that may arise from legal actions brought in other jurisdictions. The new measures were heavily criticised by European lawyers, who claimed that Malta was trying circumvent the local courts.
Gaming companies will have an additional layer of protection
The amendment proposed is in response to the growing concern within the industry regarding the risks of cross-border legal action against operators. Malta wants to give operators greater regulatory certainty by establishing clear guidelines, and limits. This will allow them to concentrate on their business and provide safe and responsible gambling.
Introduced legislation will primarily benefit operators who offer their services on Europe’s grey market. By skirting local regulations, they can provide an alternative for regulated companies. They are often subject to fewer restrictions, and they frequently attract the ire local regulators. The new bill will allow these businesses to operate with relative impunity.
The Court will refuse to recognize and/or enforce any foreign judgment or decision in Malta.
Malta Bill 55 Gaming Amendment
The bill addresses “forum shopping,” in which plaintiffs choose jurisdictions that are more favorable for their claims, regardless of the primary licensing jurisdiction of the operator. Malta intends by setting explicit criteria to enforce foreign jurisdictions, that it will discourage these practices and promote an equitable and balanced legal environment for operators.
The Bill can Obstruct EU Judicial Systems
Malta’s decision on the legislation was immediately felt abroad. Austrian and German attorneys have complained to the European Commission that Malta is trying to block European courts. The amendment, if successful, will interfere immediately with the enforcement of past and current offenses. This could potentially invalidate several verdicts against Maltese operators.
Karim Quarch and Benedikt Quiarch are representing clients in legal battles with Maltese operators who violate local regulations. If the operators are successful, they must refund the plaintiffs’ deposits and may face additional sanctions. The lawyers claim that the amendment will deny EU citizens their right to legal protection.
The Maltese government has no right intervene into the independent arm the judiciary …,, especially when it has a biased interest in favor of gambling companies
Lawyers Karim Weber and Benedikt Quarch
Malta will be placed on the grey list of FATF in 2021 for its systemic regulatory and enforcement failures. Even though Malta eventually satisfied the financial watchdog with substantial reforms and a number of other measures, money laundering and corruption remain persistent issues which continue to harm the reputation of the nation. The European Commission must act quickly to prevent a potential escalation of tensions.