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Voluntary organisations

 
As per Article 42 of the Constitution of Malta, everyone is allowed to freely assemble. What this means in the context of the Second Schedule is that associations are not obliged to be registered as legal persons  as a pre-condition for people to assemble and to carry on lawful activities.
 

Organisations which are not regulated by special laws are regulated by the following:

  • The Second Schedule to the Civil Code (Chapter 16 of the Laws of Malta) regulates legal persons, legal associations and foundations.
  • The Voluntary Organizations Act (Chapter 492 of the Laws of Malta) regulates voluntary organizations.
  • The Trust and Trustees Act (Chapter 331 of the Laws of Malta) which regulates charitable trusts, amongst other things.

The Civil Code recognises the existence of unregistered organizations. However legal personality exists when an organisation is recognised or is established as a legal person by a special law or it is registered in terms of the provisions of the Schedule or any other special law which grants legal personality. This entails that the patrimony assets and liabilities are separate and distinct from that of any other person in the organization. Legal persons are distinct from their promoters, founders, administrators and members, if any.  The acts of legal persons bind no-one but themselves except as provided by law
 
The Land and Public Registry houses the Registrar for Legal Persons as established in the Second Schedule of the Civil Code (Chapter 16) and related Regulations as per Legal Notice 439/2010 and Legal Notice 440/2010.
 
Third Country Nationals have no restrictions on creation of organizations, and no restrictions regarding the composition of the individuals of such associations, foundations and trusts. Third Country Nationals have equal access with nationals to be a member of and participate in political parties present in Malta.


FoundationS

A foundation is an organisation consisting of a universality of things constituted in writing, including by means of a will, by a founder or founders whereby assets are destined either

(a) for the fulfilment of a specified purpose; or

(b) for the benefit of a named person or class of persons, and are entrusted to the administration of a designated person or persons. The patrimony, namely assets and liabilities, of the foundation is kept distinct from that of its founder, administrators or any beneficiaries.

A foundation may only be constituted by virtue of a public deed inter vivos, or by a will and published by a Notary Public. It is important to note that a foundation may not be established to trade or carry on any commercial activities, even if the proceeds of such trade or commercial activities are destined for social purposes. A foundation may therefore never engage in active trading.

The law does however contemplate exceptions; therefore a foundation which is enrolled as a voluntary organisation in terms of the Voluntary Organisations Act (Chapter 492 of the Laws of Malta) may carry out activities as permitted by the law.


Associations

An association is an agreement between three or more persons to establish an organisation with defined aims or purposes through dedicated efforts and resources by such persons and others who may join voluntarily, the patrimony, namely assets and liabilities, if any, of the association being distinct from that of the members, its administrators or any beneficiaries. The purposes of an association may be for promoting private interests, for promoting a trade or profession, for the achievement of a social purpose, or for the carrying on of any lawful activity on a non-profit making basis.

Associations are not bound to register as legal persons since the Constitution and the laws of Malta guarantee the freedom of association but may do so. For the purpose of registration of an association an authentic copy of the constitutive instrument together with other documents is to be delivered to and filed at the Public Registry by the administrators.

 

Trusts

A trust exists where a person (called a trustee) holds, as owner or has vested in him property under an obligation to deal with that property for the benefit of persons (called the beneficiaries), whether or not yet ascertained or in existence, which is not for the benefit only of the trustee, or for a charitable purpose, or for both such benefit and purpose aforesaid.

The trust property shall constitute a separate fund owned by the trustee, distinct and separate from the personal property of the trustee and from other property held by the trustee under any other trust.

The trust property is held by or in the name or under the control of the trustee who shall have full power as well as the duty for which he is accountable, to administer, employ or dispose of the trust property in accordance with the terms of the trust and any special duties imposed on the trustee by any law applicable thereto, to sue and be sued in respect of the trust and otherwise to act in all matters concerning the trust.

Trusts established or recognised in terms of the Trusts and Trustees Act shall qualify as voluntary organisations only when they are established as charitable trust, as defined by the law.

 

CAN FOUNDATIONS AND TRUSTS HAVE MEMBERS?

 

Foundations and Trust cannot have members although may still have volunteers or contributors but without voting rights. All decisions rest upon the Board of the Administrators and the administrators are appointed or removed by the founder or founders. 

 

The founders and/or the administrators have the right to call Annual General Meetings or other meetings, but the volunteers or contributors have no right to vote unless the statute provides otherwise and are appointed as Board Members.

 

On the other hand, an association may have members and the Committee Members are elected in office through their Annual General Meetings or Extra Ordinary Meetings.

 

Voluntary Organisations

The Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations was set up by the Voluntary Organisations Act in 2007 with the task to strengthen the voluntary sector through various initiatives with the specific aim of promoting the work of VOs as well as encouraging their role as partners with the government in various initiatives.

All voluntary organisations may apply for enrolment under the Voluntary Organisations Act. Voluntary Organisations are not obliged to enrol. The following criteria need to be met to be enrolled:

  • Established by a written instrument;
  • Established for a lawful purpose, that can be a social purpose or any other purpose which is lawful;
  • Non-profit making;
  • Voluntary; 
  • Independent of the State.

If the voluntary organisation is based locally, it is not necessary that the voluntary organisation registers its activities with the Office of the Registrar for Legal Persons or that it has legal personality under Maltese law. If the voluntary organisation is foreign and is going to open a branch in Malta, it must register its activities with the Office of the Registrar for Legal Persons.

If a voluntary organisation does not enrol, it cannot make public collections without the permission of the Commissioner of Police, it cannot receive grants or enter into co-operation contracts with the Government of Malta and it will not be able to avail itself of the support of the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations or be a beneficiary of the positive policies which government entities are bound to provide in favour of enrolled voluntary organisations. A non-enrolled vol​untary organisation will also not be able to use the VO status in its name or on its logos and letterheads.


It is fundamentally important that each organisation has a good statute irrelevant to what legal form such organisation is. Disputes between members of a voluntary organisation or between members and one or more administrators relating the affairs of the voluntary organisation may be avoided if the organisation has a good statute.

Voluntary Organisations shall make the statute, annual reports and the financial accounts available for inspection, free of charge, by any founder, administrator or member of the voluntary organisation as well as by any donor or beneficiary who satisfies the administrators of an interest in the information.

Every Administrator/Member shall conform to the Organisation's Code of Ethics. Any Member or members alleged to have brought, or attempted to bring disrepute on the Organisation, shall be asked to appear before the Executive Committee and if, in the opinion of the Executive Committee, the case be found proven, the Member shall be deprived of his/her membership. If the said Member fails to appear before the Executive Committee without justification he/she shall be deprived of membership.

This statute may be revoked, added to or altered by a vote of at least fifty one per cent of all the registered Members of the Organisation who are entitled to vote at a General Meeting of the Organisation of which notice has been duly given specifying the intention to propose the revocation, addition or alteration, together with full particulars thereof.​


Last updated in August 2016.​

Types of Organizations
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 Contact Name
The Land and Public Registry
Casa Bolino
116, West Street
Valletta VLT 1535

 Telephone
+356 2123 9777

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