In the case of Waldemar Galea v l-Universita' ta' Malta, decided by the Court of Appeal on the 25th January 2019, it was held that due to the wording of the law in Chapter 452 (the Employment and Industrial Relations Act), cases of alleged unfair termination of fixed term employment contracts had to be decided by the normal civil courts and not by the Industrial Tribunal.
Act LVIII of 2020, published on the 11th December 2020, now establishes that the definition of 'unfair dismissal' in the Act includes also the termination by the employer of a fixed term employment contract (except when the contract terminates by the expiration of the time agreed upon). This means that the Industrial Tribunal now has a solid legal basis to decide such cases. What is also interesting to note is that if the employer wants to sue the employee for having terminated a fixed term contract before the time agreed upon without the employee having a good and sufficient cause, the employer will also need to refer the matter to the Industrial Tribunal to be paid a sum equivalent to half the wages which would have accrued to the employee had the employee remained in employment.
The civil courts shall remain competent to deal with cases of alleged unfair termination of fixed term contracts of which they were seized before the coming into force of the amending act. The Industrial Tribunal shall be competent to hear such cases notwithstanding any pleas relating to the lack of jurisdiction given before the coming into force of the amending act.