Written by Jasmine Farrugia – 4th Year Law Student
As we kick off a new year let’s take a look at the most influencing and controversial legal issues that dominated 2018 and will undoubtedly influence 2019 and other years to come.
New Gaming Act
2018 introduced the Gaming Act which addresses a number of matters that needed to be achieved to keep up with this dynamic industry. The act created a streamlined approach with the aim of simplifying the licensing procedure. Provisions about the duration of licenses and licensing fees have also been introduced. The possibility of inclusion of future technologies and virtual currencies was also addressed in this act, as a result the Gaming Act has been overall well received within the gaming community.
New Cryptocurrency bills
Malta as the blockchain island welcomed three cryptocurrency and blockchain bills in 2018; ‘The Malta Digital Innovation Authority Bill’, ‘The Technology Arrangements and Services Bill’ and ‘The Virtual Financial Assets Bill.’ As a result, this makes Malta the first country in the world to provide an official set of regulations for operators in the blockchain, cryptocurrency and DLT space. These bills put Malta on the map as an important location for blockchain investment. 2019 will be the best judge as to whether this ambitious vision can be sustained.
Domestic Violence Act amendments
2018 marked another milestone as the Domestic violence bill was approved. The approved amendments provide better legal protection to victims of violence. The bill also brought with it the change in the age of consent as it was lowered to 16.
Embryo Protection Act amendments
Controversial amendments to the Embryo Protection Act were approved by Parliament in 2018. These amendments were heavily criticized as being a breach to the right to life. Nevertheless, the Health Ministry claimed that the amendments enable more people to become parents including same-sex couples and single parents. The bill was put to a final vote last June, however, the introduction of altruistic surrogacy was dropped.
Bill amending the Education Act
A bill has been proposed to amend the Education Act, which has received a lot of criticism as teachers were worried that such a bill will revoke their warrants. So far the Ministry of Education has reassured teachers that the bill will not revoke any warrants. The aim of the bill is said to protect teachers and impose penalties on those who threaten teachers especially in light of past events that have made the teaching profession a risky business.
White paper for Rental Reform
Housing has been a hot topic in 2018 as several people and families are struggling to keep up with the ever increasing rental prices. A White Paper on rent reform has been drafted during the past 12 months. The white paper aims to maintain a balance between tenants and landlords by tackling the uncertainty of short-term leases. In addition, it encourages longer leases and includes measures aimed at increasing the availability of affordable rental properties.
The start towards Prostitution law reform
The government has acknowledged the need for reforming the existing prostitution laws.In October 2018 the government has so far approved the introduction of a new mechanism in the form of an ‘exit programme’ that provides professional help for those who need it. Nonetheless, there is still more discussion left to be done in order to fully reform prostitution laws and to eliminate the stigma that surrounds it.
2018 has brought several controversies as well as notable legal achievements. There are still other matters that are yet to be formally addressed such as the long-awaited Constitutional reform. Thank you 2018, we hope that 2019 will bring laws that reflect the current needs of society and that strengthen the rule of law in Malta.