Francesca Galea | Making the most of Malta's waters

Dr Francesca Galea of M. Demajo Maritime & M. Demajo Aviation, talks to MaltaToday about the ins and outs of registering yachts and aircraft in Malta

Dr Francesca Galea of M. Demajo Maritime & M. Demajo Aviation
Dr Francesca Galea of M. Demajo Maritime & M. Demajo Aviation

What services do the M. Demajo Maritime and M. Demajo Aviation alliances offer within the M. Demajo Group?

M. Demajo Maritime and M. Demajo Aviation have been established based on a strong belief in the potential of both the maritime and aviation industries in Malta. M. Demajo Maritime offers exclusive consultation in relation to any particular aspect of the yachting industry and has been designed to assist yacht owners and consultants throughout a yacht's lifecycle. M. Demajo Aviation services the private and business aviation industry through its knowledge and experience in the legal field as well as the co-ordination of technical requirements with industry experts.

What is a yacht and is there any difference between a 'yacht' and a 'superyacht' in the yachting industry?

There is no formal international legal definition that distinguishes a yacht from a superyacht, however in practice a superyacht is a yacht that is considered to be 35 metres and over in length, thus a yacht would be any vessel ranging from 10 to 34 metres. Typically the terms luxury yacht, super yacht, large yacht and mega yacht are used interchangeably and refer to yachts belonging to ultra high net worth individuals which are used privately or chartered out for commercial gain.

What is the significance of having a yacht registered?

Just as every individual has a nationality, every vessel should be conferred with a nationality. The process of registering a yacht entails having a choice of which nationality to associate with your vessel. No vessel is authorised to sail without being registered. The nationality one wishes to confer to a vessel is the law that will govern the vessel in all its operations wherever it may be found. In effect a vessel is deemed to be an extension of the land of the country which nationality it carries and is governed by that law for all intents and purposes.

What is the significance of seeking professional assistance when one decides to embark on the venture of acquiring a yacht?

The venture of buying a yacht whether it is for the first time or if the owner is already experienced, presents an exclusive transaction which brings forward different challenges according to the specific circumstances of the case. Proper planning and professional legal and technical assistance is necessary from the very early stages to avoid any unpleasant experiences for the owner. The professional entrusted with the responsibility of assisting and consulting in the acquisition of a yacht ensures that all pre and post transaction procedures will run smoothly and that the owner is left worry-free and in a position to focus on the enjoyment of the yacht.

Does M. Demajo Maritime represent Maltese or international yacht owners?

Our clientele is international and we mostly represent international owners. The Maltese Merchant Shipping Act allows any foreign individual or entity to register a vessel in Malta. In case a foreign national wants to register a vessel in his/her own name we are in a position in accordance with Maltese law to act on behalf of the international owner in the vest of a 'resident agent' and to do all those things which are ancillary and conducive to the purpose of having a yacht registered with the Malta flag.

Malta being an island makes for a natural choice for seeking maritime legal services. What about the aviation industry? Why is Malta an ideal spot to register or lease aircraft? 

The Maltese Government has in 2010 enacted the Aircraft Registration Act to promote through solid regulation the aviation industry in Malta and with the thought of replicating the success Malta is renowned for in the maritime world. There are many advantages which make Malta worthy of consideration, these include: the lowest tax rate in Europe; the high standards on safety in accordance with EASA regulations, the sterling work and efficient response carried out by the Maltese Civil Aviation Department.

How has the maritime and aviation market changed as a result of the recession?

The maritime and aviation markets have well stood the hard times in Europe. There is concern about the future of the yachting industry due to a number of stringent measures the EU has taken on the operation of the industry. While 2008-2010 was a heavy down turn for the aviation industry, a positive recovery has been experienced since 2011; however the recession has, till present day, impinged negatively on the value of aircrafts. It has been forecasted that the golden age of both industries in Europe is diminishing and an interest and emergence of the industries is now flourishing in the East.

What gives the company competitive edge over other legal service providers?

The M. Demajo Group offers a larger support network to the operation of the maritime and aviation sectors due to its involvements in various fields internationally. The maritime and aviation alliance is directed by individuals who are passionate about all aspects of maritime and aviation and have specialised legal understanding and technical knowledge in both sectors. We ensure that our client's interests are safeguarded as if they were our own. We are used to working under pressure and understand the practical nature of the industries in a way that makes us deliver a more adequate service based on the distinctive needs of our clients.