The Maltese law on Foundations was introduced on the 1st of April, 2008. In spite of the relatively recent implementation of the law on foundations, Malta enjoys an established jurisprudence on the law of foundations where the Courts have dealt with foundations set up for public purposes.
Under Maltese law, a foundation may be set up by natural or legal persons, whether Maltese residents or not and irrespective of their domicile. There are mainly two types of foundations recognised by the law being:
The Public Foundation
A public foundation may be set up for a purpose, as long as it is a lawful purpose.
The Private Foundation
A private foundation is a fund endowed for the benefit of one or more persons or of a class of persons (the beneficiaries) which become autonomous and acquires the status of a legal person when it is formed in the manner prescribed by law.
Foundations may be set up either during a person’s lifetime or by will on that person’s death.
The law provides that the foundation must be constituted in writing, via public deed inter vivos or a public or secret will. The written deed includes detailed provisions containing the powers and signing rights.
The setting up of a foundation entails the registration of the deed of foundation with local authorities, amongst which the Office for the Registrar of Legal Persons through which it gains separate legal personality. The foundation itself is therefore the owner of the foundation property which is transferred to the foundation through the process of endowment.
For voluntary organisations in Malta, there is then a further registration procedure which has to be fulfilled.
A voluntary organisation has to fulfil the following conditions in order to be eligible for registration:
- 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; and
- independent of the State.