Case law

  • Case Details
    • National ID: 710/2006
    • Member State: Malta
    • Common Name:Acting Director of the Public Registry vs Notary Peter Fleri Soler
    • Decision type: Court decision, first degree
    • Decision date: 16/04/2013
    • Court: Civil Court, First Hall
    • Subject:
    • Plaintiff: Aġent Direttur tar-Reġistru Pubbliku
    • Defendant: Peter Fleri Soler
    • Keywords: consumer, Distance Selling Directive, email
  • Directive Articles
    Distance Selling Directive, Article 2 Distance Selling Directive, Article 2, (2)
  • Headnote
    (1) When acting in his capacity as notary, a notary cannot be considered a consumer for the purposes of Directive 97/7/EC.
  • Facts
    On the 16th of March 2005, the defendant notary, by means of an email, applied for registry searches to be performed on the company Andrews Hotels Limited. After the Public Registry was not paid for such searches, the plaintiff instituted an action against the defendant notary claiming that it was owed LM4148.13 (€9662.56).

    The defendant pleaded that i) one of the requisites required for the completion of a sale, namely that the price of the acquired object is agreed upon at the time of sale (as laid out by Article 1347 of the Civil Code), was not satisfied and that ii) the claim of the plaintiff breached Directive 97/7/EC of the European Union with regard to distance selling.
  • Legal issue
    The court first made it clear that the Directive only applies to consumers. Thus, after examining the definition of "consumer" in the Consumer Affairs Act (Chapter 378 of the Laws of Malta) and Article 2(2) of the Directive the court emphasised that for the purposes of such Directive a consumer is defined as a person who acts "for purposes which are outside his trade, business or profession."

    The court went on to say that as a principle the Directive protects consumers who conclude distance contracts for purely private purposes. Thus other kinds of contracts, even if they fall under the definition of "distance selling" cannot be protected in the same manner when they have as their purpose professional or commercial interests.

    In view of the above the Court decided that the notary, in ordering online searches acted in his capacity as a professional notary and could not be considered a consumer for the purposes of the Directive and the Distance Selling Regulations (which transposes Directive 97/7/EC), especially when considering the fact that it was the notary who instituted the action himself, rather than his client.
  • Decision

    (1) Can a notary be considered a consumer for the purposes of Directive 97/7/EC when ordering registry searches for his client?


    Full text: Full text

  • Related Cases

    No results available

  • Legal Literature

    No results available

  • Result
    The court found in favour of the plaintiff and ordered the defendant to pay for the registry searches.