Angry clients sue notary Ivan Barbara’s widow for unrefunded deposits, unpaid tax

23 clients demand Barbara's widow refunds a total of approximately €165,000 held in escrow by the notary

23 clients of deceased notary Ivan Barbara have filed judicial proceedings against the notary’s widow, demanding she refund a total of approximately €165,000 held in escrow by the notary as deposits and taxes relating to various property contracts.

The 23 plaintiffs, of whom the MaltaToday is informed there are yet more to come, say they had asked Barbara’s office to return their deposits, claiming they have evidence the office is still operating.

At first, reads their court application, they had been informed by Rosanne Barbara Zarb that the refunds could not be processed immediately as Barbara’s death certificate had not yet been issued, due to bureaucratic delays caused by the fact that he had died in India.

But after more time passed and the death certificate was issued, their requests for refunds had been met with Barbara Zarb’s claims that the repayment process “was still underway.”

Eventually, they had spoken to a notary from Barbara’s office who informed them that Barbara Zarb had renounced her inheritance.

Malta’s Notarial Council confirmed last August that Rosanne Barbara Zarb had renounced her inheritance of her late husband’s estate, following his death in India from COVID-19 in 2019.

The pending deeds and wills in Barbara’s possession were passed on to the Chief Government Notary but the Notarial Council had later clarified it had no jurisdiction over any civil claims related to deposits and had urged clients to seek legal advice.

After news of the inheritance issue hit the headlines, several clients of the notary had made inquiries with government departments to check whether tax they had paid on property contracts had been received. They were informed that no payment had been received, meaning that their contracts were never registered, also necessitating them to pay the same tax that they had already paid Barbara to settle.

In the court application, Lawyer David Bonello, on behalf of the plaintiffs, claimed that they have evidence showing that Barbara Zarb had “performed acts pertaining to an heir and had therefore tacitly accepted the inheritance,” as provided for at law.

If accepted, this means her renunciation and the subsequent decree by the Civil Court would have to be revoked contrario imperio by the courts.

The plaintiffs asked the court to order Barbara Zarb to refund the individual amounts owed to them, with interest.