Powers of Attorney – Recent Changes

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A power of attorney is legal document which is in reality a written authorisation for one person to be able to act on the other’s behalf. The reasons why a power of attorney is used may be varied; either in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter – it could simply be because geographical proximity.

The person authorising the other to act is referred to as the principal, grantor, or mandator, while the person authorised to act is referred to as the agent, attorney or the mandatory.

The Maltese Civil Law divides the notion of powers of attorney into two, general and special. The Maltese general power of attorney enables the agent to act in the name of the principal for any type of action, while the special power of attorney enables the agent to conduct one or more actions of certain type on behalf of the principal. The Maltese special power of attorney must stipulate the exact form of the action to be conducted by the agent and, it is advisable to include an expiration date.

There have unfortunately a number of horror stories when it comes to ultra vires with respect to powers of attorney and it is for this reason that the Ministry of Justice in Malta has been working on modernising the system and the way it works.

Previously, cancelling a power of attorney in Malta was a lengthy, laborious process that required individuals to individually notify each and every notary and commercial bank in Malta, with the costs running into hundreds of Euros.

In fact, it has been recently announced that cancelling a power of attorney is now possible within twenty four hours thanks to the introduction of an online registry.

The new system, allows the holder or subject of a power of attorney to terminate it by filling in an online form and paying a processing fee of fifty Euro. The form will then be processed by the offices of the notary to the government within twenty four hours, and then published to an online registry.

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