Local Council Act
The Local Councils Act (Chp. 363 of the Laws of Malta) has set up Local Councils in 68 localities and serves as a regulatory mechanism for Local Councils’ operations.
Local Government was established in 1993 following the Maltese Parliament’s approval of the Local Councils Act (Chapter 363 of the Laws of Malta) on 30 June 1993. This law set up Local Councils in 67 localities (later increased to 68). Furthermore, it now serves as a regulatory mechanism for Local Councils’ operations.
The Local Councils Act was modelled on the European Charter of Local Self-Government (Council of Europe), which the Maltese Government had signed and ratified. According to this Act, a Local Council “shall be a statutory local government authority having a distinct legal personality and capable of entering into contracts, of suing and being sued, and of doing all such things and entering into such transactions as are incidental or conducive to the exercise and performance of its functions as are allowed under the Act.”
Today, Malta has 68 Local Councils – 54 in Malta and 14 in Gozo. The Local Councils Act was revised considerably by the Local Councils (Amendment) Act 1999 (Act No. XXI of 1999) published on 21 December 1999 and Act No. XVI of 2009 as part of the Local Government Reform 2009.
Another important step taken to consolidate Local Government in Malta was when the system of local government was entrenched in the Constitution of Malta. In fact, on 24 April 2001, Act No. XIII of 2001 established that: “The State shall adopt a system of local government whereby the territory of Malta shall be divided into such number of localities as may by law be from time to time determined, each locality to be administered by a Local Council elected by the residents of the locality and established and operating in terms of such law as may from time to time be in force.”.
A new Local Government Reform of Local and Regional Councils, was published as a White Paper in October 2018, and officially implemented as soon as the island’s newly elected Councillors took office on the 1st July 2019, following Local Council elections which took place at the end of May of the same year. As a result of the reform, a number of legislative, administrative and operational changes in the way local authorities operate (Local and Regional Councils) took place.
In the Laws of Malta, today the Local Councils Act is referred to as Chapter 363.
The Act is divided into seven parts and has eleven schedules as follows:
The seven parts are:
Part I. Title, Commencement and Interpretation
Part II. Constitution of Councils
Part III. The Office of Mayor
Part IV. Functions of Local Councils, Procedure and Meetings
Part V. Officers and Employees
Part VI. Finance
Part VII. Miscellaneous Provisions
The eleven schedules deal with:
2. Localities and their boundaries
3. Local Council (Elections) Regulations
4. Items excluded from responsibility of Local Councils
5. Oath of Office of Councillors/Mayor/Deputy Mayor
6. Standing Orders
7. Election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor
8. Approved Non-Governmental Organisations
9. List of Member countries of the Council of Europe whose nationals are entitled to vote in Local Council Elections
10. Financial allocation to Councils
11. List of Hamlets and their boundaries