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Jactitation suits are a long established remedy found under Maltese procedural law intended to limit one’s ability to indefinitely vaunt claims without basis. This type of suit allows any person, whether natural or legal, that has had any form of right vaunted against him in written form to request the court to order the third party claimant to either bring the claim in trial within a period not exceeding three months or be forever precluded from proceeding with such a claim in the future.

The remedy is a relatively simple one and while rarely used, due to its practical implications it remains particularly useful in certain specific situations. One such example can be found in the case ofDalli John Mary sive Jon Jon and D & B Catering Ltd vs Incorvaja Leonard, case number 1126/2020 decided in favor of the applicants by the First Hall Civil Court on the 13th of July 2021 and decided in a final manner by the Court of Appeal on the 26th of January 2022. In this case the Court was requested to order the defendant to file proceedings or cease from making any further claims due to the fact that such claims over the applicant’s property were halting the sale of an immovable property.

Indeed, the defendant through a letter sent to the applicant Dalli John Mary sive Jon Jon claimed that the land on which the applicant’s property was built was his own and requested compensation without providing any proof in furtherance of his claim. Of note and of particular importance was that the defendant had only addressed his claims against Mr Dalli and made no reference to the company D & B Catering Ltd who is the owner of the property and which Mr Dalli represents as a Director.

The defendant attempted to use this to his benefit arguing that D & B Catering Ltd who has a separate legal personality had no rights vaunted against it personally as it was not mentioned in the letter nor was it notified with the same and thus could not file a jactitation suit. Furthermore, the defendant also argued that Mr Dalli himself could not file a jactitation suit as he was not the owner of the property nor was the property in his possession. In so doing the defendant essentially argued that neither applicant could file a jactitation suit and implicitly considered that there was a lacuna in the law. This position and line of argumentation was contested by the applicants who considered the same to be abusive and an attempt to circumvent the law.

It was argued by the applicants that while D & B Catering Ltd was not mentioned in the letter, the wording of the law did not explicitly consider that the person impacted had to have such rights vaunted against him personally nor was it required that he be notified with such pretensions directly. The Court of Appeal agreed with the arguments brought forward by applicants noting further that it was not important to whom the writing was addressed but rather what had to be prioritised was the content of the writing and if there was a claim being vaunted. It was decided by the Court of Appeal that the owner of the property subject to a right vaunted by a third party had a clear juridical interest and thereby a right to proceed with a jactitation suit.

Furthermore, and in relation to Mr Dalli in particular, the court noted that it was not the purpose of these proceedings to determine who has a valid title over the property but what needed to be considered was merely whether the applicant had possession of the same. Remarking that the defendant had himself directed his claims against Mr Dalli and further noting Mr Dalli’s position in the company, the court considered that possession had been proven to the extent required for actions of this nature.

The decision of the Court of Appeal thereby confirmed the decision of the First Hall Civil Court yet also went beyond it in its considerations. Indeed, the specific facts of this case allowed the Court of Appeal to go beyond the generally established requisites for an action of this nature to be successful and can be considered significant due to the legal principles established in the decision.

The applicants were represented by Av. Frank B. Testa and Av. Kirk Brincau of Mamo TCV Advocates.

This document does not purport to give legal, financial or tax advice. Should you require further information or legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Frank B. Testa or Dr. Kirk Brincau