Act XLVIII of 2016, entitled the Family Business Act ( the "Act"),  creates a legal framework for the registration of family businesses "established in Malta".  The system of registration contained in the Act allows Maltese authorities to supervise the grant offinancial "benefits"  to those businesses that meet any of the criteria set out in Article 3 of the Act, and which have been duly registered with "the Regulator". Indeed, Article 7 of the Act provides that a business shall be a registered family business once it has been accepted for registration by the Regulator in terms of Article 28 of the Act.
As a result, prior registration is necessary for a family business to qualify for any of the benefits conferred by the Duty on Documents and Transfers Act, the Malta Enterprise Act and the Business Promotion Act.
Act XXXVII of 2018, entitled The Family Business (Amendment) Act (the "Amending Act"), envisages a few changes to the Act, which are summarized as follows:
- Article 11 (4) has been amended to clarify that "any other law" under which a family business may apply for any benefit, means "any other law referring to family businesses";
- Article 11 (6) has been added to clarify that a business shall only be eligible to benefit from any incentive, benefit or scheme available to family businesses if its duly registered as a family business.
- Article 11 (7) has been added to obligate the relevant institutions to consult the Register prior to granting any benefit;
- The Annual Return period has been changed and shall now cover the calendar year starting from the first day of registration up until one year from the registration date.
- The Regulator has been endowed with separate and distinct personality by virtue of Article 17A, but he shall not have the power to borrow or lend monies or to enter into any form of commercial partnership without authorization in writing by the Minister responsible for the economy and the Minister responsible for finance in the case of borrowing/lending monies and without authorization in writing by the Minister responsible for the economy with respect to entering into any form of commercial partnership;
- The "Family Business Label" has now been substituted for a "Family Business Number";
- The Application Form previously found in the First Schedule has been deleted;
- A standard-form Annual Return will now be found in the First Schedule, with a consequent deletion of the Second Schedule;
By virtue of Legal Notice 17 of 2019 all amendments shall apply from the 31st January 2019.