The jurisdiction of Tribunals are found in special law and if not found in the law, then the courts should adopt their general jurisdiction of the case before it. This was held in Corporate & Commercial FX Services Limited -v- Satabank plc decided by the First Hall of the Civil Courts presided by Judge Miriam Hayman on 1 April 2022.
Satabank had filed application in order for this case for damages be transferred to the Appeals Board regulated by the Controlled Company (Procedure for Liquidation) Act, chapter 383 of the Laws of Malta.
Corporate & Commercial FX Services Limited (CCFX) objected to this.
Article 13 of the Controlled Company (Procedure for Liquidation) Act reads:
“13. All cases and claims pending before the Civil Court, First Hall, and being cases and claims against the Controller of a controlled asset in respect of which an order for liquidation under this Act has been made, shall be transferred to the Appeals Board and shall continue to be heard and determined by such Board:
5Provided that nothing contained in this Act shall detract from the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal to continue to hear any case pending before it:
Provided further than the Controller shall have the power to refer any matter to arbitration under such terms and conditions as he may deem fit, and any matter so referred, as well as any matter referred to arbitration prior to the coming into force of this Act, shall be heard and decided by and in accordance with the terms of reference to arbitration notwithstanding the provisions of this Act.”
CCFX argued that the case before the court is purely a damages case, after the bank took certain actions against the company. These actions brought about loss of profits. The company argued that the action does not fall under those incidents which the law provides for the case to be transferred to the Appals Board. Article 10 of the Act lists the following:
“10.(1) The Board shall have the sole and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine:
(a) any appeal made from any determination of any claim by the Controller;
(b) any claim made by the Controller against a third party including any claim for the delivery of any property held by third persons;
(c) any matter related to, or arising from, the report and scheme of distribution published by the Controller;
(d) any claim made against any Controller arising in whatsoever manner from the administration and liquidation of any assets under his control.
(2) The Board shall also have the sole and exclusive jurisdiction to enforce any decision made by it as well as any judgment delivered by a competent court in Malta against the Controller”
The Court quoted a previous case Dr Michele Martone pro et noe -v- Raymond Gatt noe, decided on 12 March 2007. In this judgement the Court held that Tribunals have jurisdiction from special law. Article 10 of the Controlled Company (Procedure for Liquidation) Act lists the powers of the Board of Appeal. The Chairman of the Board must be a lawyer with 12 years’ experience. This list found in Article 10 is complete and cannot be increased. Cases found in Article 10 are the exclusive jurisdiction of the Board of Appeal, if not then it is in the hands of the court.
The case before the court does not lie within one of the cases mentioned in Article 10. The plaintiff company is asking the court to order the bank to release fonds in its account and that the damages caused because the authorities suspended the bank’s activities. Therefore, the plaintiff company is seeking damages for negligence.
The Court turned down the case.
Av Malcolm Mifsud
Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates
The article is available on MaltaToday
For more information you can contact one of our Team Members at Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates.