The provisions in the Code of Organization and Civil Procedure relating to the arrest of ships have recently been amended by virtue of Act XXXI entitled ‘An Act to amend various laws (better administration of justice)’. These new amendments, which came into force as of the 18th December 2019, have introduced a novel mechanism for the service of an arrest warrant.

Under Maltese law, once a warrant of arrest is issued, it must be served on the relevant local authorities as well as on the master of the arrested vessel. Prior to the said legislative amendments, such service was carried out solely by the Court marshals. Act XXXI implemented changes allowing for an arresting creditor to list in its arrest application, the name and details of a natural or legal person who shall be responsible to affect service of the warrant onto the vessel. Once the arrest warrant is then issued, that same person shall be duly authorized by the Court to carry out service of the warrant on the master of the arrested ship. Act XXXI has also amended the application forms for precautionary and executive warrants of arrest.

Despite the above changes on the procedure to affect service on a vessel at sea, it should be noted that an arrest remains deemed executed once the Authority for Transport in Malta is duly served with a copy of the warrant.

Act XXXI is available online at:

http://www.justiceservices.gov.mt/DownloadDocument.aspx?app=lp&itemid=29862&l=1