Malta has a written Constitution which prevails over any other law. International conventions are either ratified by the House of Representatives or by an enabling law passed by Parliament which enacts into Maltese law the rights and obligations arising from such conventions. Following Malta’s membership of the European Union, European Union Regulations are directly applicable in Malta, whereas European Union Directives must be transposed into Maltese law.
Although Maltese law is based on the civil law system, it has been strongly influenced by other legal systems, particularly English Common Law and, more recently, European Union legislation. In fact, whilst Maltese civil law is largely based on Roman law principles; fiscal law, company law, shipping and maritime law and most fields of commercial law are heavily influenced by English law. Financial services legislation in Malta is principally based on European Union legislation.
Maltese legislation is composed of primary legislation and secondary legislation. Primary legislation is enacted by Parliament, whereas secondary legislation is issued by Ministers by virtue of the power granted to them by the primary legislation. Such subsidiary legislation is published in the Official Government Gazette and tabled in Parliament.
Although judicial precedent is not binding in Malta, the judiciary certainly does refer to case-law and doctrine to assist it in its interpretation and application of the law.