Modern Regulation of Maltese Titles of Nobility
In 1975 the Maltese Government under the Premiership of Dom Mintoff brought in a Bill for the purpose of abolishing titles of nobility. On the 25 June 1975, the President of the Republic of Malta Sir Anthony Mamo, gave his assent to Act No. XXIX. Although the title of Act XXIX is to provide for the “abolition” of titles of nobility, the law fell short of abolishing them because it only imposed a general duty to “not recognize” them.
Since Act XXIX various books, many claiming an endorsement of some kind, on ‘present day title holders’ were published in Malta. These books e.g. “Dictionary of Maltese Biographies” mention a plethora of titles such as marquises, barons, nobles even present day patricians of one city or another, but do not attempt to offer any explanation as to how these originated, or whether the person so styled is actually entitled to such honours.
www.maltagenealogy.com have demonstrated how many of the “present day title holders” are not entitled to titles of nobility attributed to them.
The reasons vary: Extinction of the title, Ineligibility to succeed, Error in previous successions, Invalidity of the title and other grave reasons. (See References).
Honours bring controversies (See External References).
In 1991 the Maltese Court of Appeal in “Grech Trapani vs Gayre” held that a court could not have jurisdiction over cases of this nature since dealing with such case would be tantamount to recognition of titles which were not recognized by law and this would be in breach of Act XXIX which calls for such bodies and officers to refrain from recognition.
Two more lawsuits both regarding claims to the title of Barone della Tabria decided in the early 21st century, one “Ramsay vs Bugeja” the other “Bugeja Viani vs Attorney General” highlighted the obligation imposed by Act XXIX not to recognize any title of nobility. Nobody can lay claims to something that the State, on principle, does not recognize. In the first case decided in 2004, the claim of two ladies to the title was thrown out because otherwise the court would be implicitly recognizing title claimed in breach of Act XXIX. In the second case decided in 2009, the court decided that one cannot expect the State to interfere in who should be a baron, count or any other rank because the Maltese State took a political decision to be a republic and therefore titles of nobility cannot be officially recognized in Malta.
However, the court said titles can be used in unofficial contexts.
Another case is “Baldacchino vs Calleja” which concerns the Grand Mastership of the Ordo Byzantinus Sancti Sepulchri. In the judgment which is pending appeal, the court recognized the fact that undertaking such proceedings would involve implicit recognition of the order in question. It held that a close analysis of Act XXIX shows that not only should it not recognize any title of nobility or any honour, award, decoration, membership or office which is not recognized in accordance with the provisions of this article, neither could it do anything which could be tantamount to such forbidden recognition. In the court’s words, it was crystal clear that entering into the merits of the case would implicitly translate into recognition of the title and order not recognized by the Act, which would run contrary to Act XXIX. An appeal is pending.
It is high time the Maltese State abolishes these titles once and for all.
The Maltese State has its own system of honours based on merit. In 2011 a controversy arose regarding honours bestowed on Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 1976 and 2004. The controversy which is officially “not a priority” is interesting because the argument harks of the old system of nobility.
It is suggested that the Maltese State formally expropriates all the old honours which are “no longer recognized”, so that they be granted anew to other people who may be just as, if not more, meritorious as the people who lived a long time ago.
REFERENCES (This site):- http://www.maltagenealogy.com/default.htm (follow links)
REFERENCES (External Sites):-