The Tabria court cases (2004-2009)



Writing in 1992, Charles A Gauci (__) states that on the 25 July 1985 the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility “ratified a transfer” of the title of Barone della Tabria which was effected on the 14th January 1985 by Joseph Scicluna in favour of Lilianina Bugeja, nee Falzon Sant Manduca. 


The title of Barone della Tabria was created in 1728 by Grand Master Vilhena in favour of Isidoro Viani (__)  Isidoro Viani was later also granted the title of “Most Illustrious and Noble”


The Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility which claims to be the representation of the Maltese nobility is today a mere private body with no legal or constitutional significance.


3 court cases were opened between 2004 and 2009. One was decided by the Maltese general court (civil Court) in 2004, another two by the Maltese Constitutional Court in 2007 and 2009. It appears that some time after the first case, the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility changed its mind and gave the title to Corinne Ramsay (sister of Joseph Scicluna) instead of Philip Bugeja (Lilianina’ s son). 


Case no. 1 (Corinne Ramsay and Christianne Ramsay Pergola –vs – John Bugeja, Philip, Maryanne, and Julian Bugeja – Court: Civil First Hall 30/01/2004 1722/2001/1)(__)


The first case was filed by Corinne Ramsay and her daughter against Philip Bugeja, Julian Bugeja, Maryann Bugeja and John Bugeja. In that case, Ramsay and her daughter demanded that the transfer of the 14th January 1985 be annulled. 


However, in its judgment the court said that Corinne Ramsay and her daughter could call themselves whatever they liked because the Maltese Courts may not decide matters of titles of nobility. The case was thrown out and no appeal was filed by either Ramsay or her daughter.


Cases nos. 2 and 3 (Philip Bugeja Viani -vs- Attorney General – Court: Civil First Hall (Constitutional Jurisdiction) 10/07/2007 57/2006, – Court: Constitutional 20/02/2009 57/2006/1) (__))


The second and third cases were filed by Philip Bugeja against the Maltese State, asking for a right of judicial review of private decisions. Bugeja was complaining that the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility reversed its 1985 decision. The Courts again confirmed that they may not decide matters of titles of nobility. The courts concluded that a title of nobility was not recognized in the Maltese judicial system and could not be considered a possession, a civil right or an obligation. 


Referring to Bugeja Viani, the court said that the applicant cannot expect the State to interfere in who should be a baron, count or any other rank. The Maltese State took a political decision to be a republic and therefore titles of nobility (derived from a monarchy) cannot be officially recognised in Malta. The applicant therefore cannot lay claims to something that the State, on principle, does not recognise. (__)




Where does that leave everyone? The problem is that there is no official authority in Malta that may determine succession of titles of nobility. The Maltese courts are saying that anyone can call himself whatever he likes. – So, who is the real Baron (or Baroness) of Tabria? 


Bugeja? Ramsay? Somebody else?


What guarantee is there that an unofficial body actually made the right decision? 


What is the value of a decision of a private body which decides one way in 1985 and another in 2004? is making available online the histories, rules and genealogies of these titles together with all other resources in regard to Maltese titles (__) , old Maltese fiefs (__) and foreign titles with a Maltese connection (__)