by Dr Mary Rose Micallef – Junior Associate
UPDATE 17 March 2020: This Legal Notice was repealed by means of Legal Notice 75 of 2020. Hence, it is no longer applicable.
UPDATE: 10 April 2020, Legal Notice 141 of 2020 – Read here for the latest update.
Legal Notice 43 of 2020, aptly named: “Epidemics and Infectious Disease (Suspension of legal times relating to promise of sale agreements, notarial and related matters) Order, 2020”, was published yesterday 12 March 2020.
It imposes a set of extraordinary laws in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Generally, the law imposes several time-frames by which legal professionals must comply; for instance, a Notary Public has to register some acts within a certain period. In normal circumstances, notaries must observe such time-frames rigorously, without any exceptions.
Legal Notice 43 of 2020, which is is perhaps the first of the many, lists the measures to be introduced in connection with the legal time-frames affecting promise of sales agreements (konvenji), notarial acts, and other related matters.
This act was issued in exercise of the powers conferred by the Public Health Act, by the Superintendent of Public Health, and it is really and truly a preparatory set of regulations for an eventual lock-downs of public departments. Therefore, while the regulations are in force, they depend on another order yet to be made, and are thus not yet triggered until further notice. Therefore, at the time of the writing of this article, all time-frames shall continue to run as usual.
It states that when the Superintendent orders the closure of public departments (such as the public registry, the land registry, the inland department, among others), this order in itself would automatically suspend the legal time-frame for the registration of notarial deeds, including deeds (e.g.: sale, emphyteusis, donations), wills, acts or private writing, promise of sale agreements and their relative extensions.
Additionally, the time frame provided by law for tax on any deed to be collected shall likewise be suspended.
Any expiration term of any promise of sale agreement duly registered in terms of law with the Commissioner of Revenue within the period established by law shall also be suspended whilst the order for closure is in force.
This suspension shall be applicable whilst such eventual order of lock-down remains in force.
Following our return to normal times, the suspension shall last a further 45 days. However, it is stated in Legal Notice 64 of 2020 that if the last day of any legal term expires during the first five days immediately following the lifting of the repeal of any such order by the Superintendent, in this case, the running of any legal terms shall be deemed to be suspended for a period of twenty days from the lifting of the repeal of any such order by the Superintendent.
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