Part IV of the Arbitration Act deals with the conduct of domestic arbitration in the settlement of disputes, which are defined to include any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to an agreement, or the breach, termination or invalidity thereof or failure to comply therewith.
Generally, any matter which is the subject of a dispute is capable of settlement by arbitration. The Act, however, excludes disputes concerning questions of personal civil status including those relating to personal separation and annulment of marriage. Nevertheless, questions relating to the division of property between spouses may be referred to arbitration subject to the approval by the competent court of the arbitration agreement and of the arbitrator to be appointed [Article 15(6)].
Part IV of the Act contains a comprehensive legal framework which regulates domestic arbitration proceedings. The main thrust of its rules is to grant the parties autonomy in determining the manner by which their arbitral proceedings are conducted. The parties are allowed the right to determine, inter alia, the choice and appointment of arbitrators, the choice of the language to be used in the arbitral proceedings, the submission of written statements, the establishment of time-limits, and the choice of location for the conduct of arbitration proceedings. In this regard, the role of MAC is primarily that of assisting the parties in the smooth running of the arbitral process. The Chairman of the MAC Board of Governors may be requested to intervene in matters when no agreement between the parties is possible, such as disagreement over the appointment of arbitrators, and in the event that an arbitrator, who is challenged by one of the parties, fails to withdraw.
In the case of domestic arbitration, it is of fundamental importance that the party, initiating recourse to arbitration, files the relative notice of arbitration with the MAC. Failure to do so shall render any procedures and any award pursuant thereto to be null and void, and unenforceable. Registration of the arbitration agreement is also required if the parties request interim measures and precautionary acts, or the taking of recourse against an award, or the resumption of arbitral proceedings.
The Arbitration Act requires an award to be in writing and the award shall be deemed to be delivered at the place agreed to by the parties as the place of arbitration, or, in the absence of agreement, the place determined by the arbitral tribunal. The parties are required to carry out the award without delay. In this respect a mechanism is provided for the successful party to apply for the registration of the award by MAC. Once this registration has taken place, the award constitutes an executive title for the purposes of Title VII of Part I of Book Second of the Code of Organization and Civil Procedure. There is no appeal from a registered award delivered pursuant to the provisions of the Arbitration Act. It is final and binding upon the parties.
The powers of the Maltese Courts to intervene or exercise jurisdiction in matters relating to arbitration are restricted to very exceptional and specific circumstances which are expressly provide for under the Arbitration Act. The parties may request the Court's assistance in the collection of evidence and the issue of interim measures and precautionary acts.
Recourse against an arbitral award can be taken either by requesting the Court to set aside the award in accordance with the provisions of Article 70 or by lodging an appeal against an arbitral award on points of law in accordance with Article 70A.