Firm Profile > GVZH Advocates > Valletta , Malta

GVZH Advocates

Banking, finance and capital markets Tier 2

Managing partner Andrew Zammit leads GVZH Advocates' banking and finance practice. The firm recently assisted Bortex Group Finance with its circa €12.7m bond issuance programme, which was intended to fund a number of hotel and retail development projects across Malta. The team, including senior associates Luca Vella and Kurt Hyzler, also advised on capital markets and corporate finance transactions for domestic and international companies.

Commercial, corporate and M&A Tier 2

The ‘always accessible, hands-on and extremely knowledgeableAndrew Zammit leads GVZH Advocates’ practice. Zammit has particular expertise in the TMT, gaming and fintech arenas; highlights included advising Scientific Games on the acquisition of NYX Gaming Group. The team - which includes noted lawyers Joseph J. Vella, Michael Grech and Albert Grech  - assists with corporate restructurings and reorganisations, as well as corporate finance transactions. Luca Vella is also recommended.

Dispute resolution Tier 2

The team at GVZH Advocates handles commercial disputes, insurance claims and various other civil matters. Karl Briffa, who made partner in 2018, is experienced in complex real estate disputes, and also undertakes contentious corporate and aviation sector cases . The practice is also active in aircraft and vessel arrests, unfair prejudice actions and matters involving the enforcement of arbitral awards. Senior associate Jonathan De Maria is also a key contact.

Intellectual property Tier 2

Michael Grech heads GVZH Advocates’ practice, which generates work from major international clients, including Unilever, L'Oréal and General Electric. The team handles the full spectrum of IP services including trade mark filing, copyright and patenting, competition and infringement actions and larger enforcement instructions. Grech advised IMG on copyright-related matters concerning its Malta-based operations.

Real estate Tier 2

The real estate practice at GVZH Advocates handles significant property sales and purchases, planning permit matters, real estate finance and long-term lease agreements. Highlights saw the firm draft and negotiate complex lease agreements for multi-use projects. Joseph J. Vella and Karl Briffa (the latter made partner in 2018) are recommended.

Aviation Tier 3

GVZH Advocates provides advice on AOC applications, aircraft registrations and private importation matters. Practice head Michael Grech and associate Katrina Abela are key contacts in the department. The team also assists clients with structuring private aircraft leasing arrangements, aircraft sale and acquisition transactions, and commercial aircraft importation matters.

Investment funds Tier 3

Andrew Zammit and senior associate Kurt Hyzler are names to note at GVZH Advocates. Hyzler has extensive experience of financial services licensing in connection with UCITS, alternative investment funds and other collective investment schemes.

Shipping Tier 3

Michael Grech and associate Katrina Abela handle the full range of yachting matters for GVZH Advocates, including vessel registrations, sale and purchase transactions, tax structuring, financing and commercial yacht certification. A recent highlight involved assisting a client with lifting a vessel arrest.

The firm: GVZH Advocates is a modern and sophisticated legal practice comprised of top-tier professionals, firmly rooted in decades of experience in the Maltese legal landscape. Built on the values of acumen, integrity and clarity, we are dedicated to providing the highest levels of customer satisfaction, making sure that legal solutions are not only soundly rooted and rigorously tested, but also meticulously implemented. The firm understands that today’s business environment requires legal advisors that have both skills and expertise geared towards effectively addressing specific and technical issues in the context of complex projects, transactions and disputes. It is through the contribution of these skills and expertise in an accurate and timely manner, that GVZH Advocates, as a forward-looking firm, looks to cement long-term and meaningful relationships with clients and partners. The firm is regularly involved in cross-border transactions, tapping into a wide network of international consultants, all experts in their respective field, ensuring seamless, timely and quality advice.

GVZH Advocates now consists of 24 lawyers, covering the following practice areas: aviation; banking and finance; citizenship and residence; competition/antitrust regulations; corporate and M&A; culture and entertainment; data protection; employment and industrial relations law; financial service regulations; hospitality; i-gaming; insolvency; intellectual property; litigation and arbitration; prevention of money laundering; projects and public procurement; real estate; shipping; tax; technology, media and telecommunications; trusts, foundations and voluntary organisations and yachting.

Areas of practice: Aviation, shipping and yachting: the firm provides solutions for aircraft, yacht and super-yacht owners, financiers and managers while representing some of the industry’s leading players.

Banking and finance: advising lenders, issuers and borrowers on leveraged and acquisition finance, corporate finance, structured finance, asset finance and leasing, aircraft finance, security trusts, capital markets, project finance, real estate finance, investment funds, asset management operations and securitisation vehicles.

Citizenship and residence: the firm provides a comprehensive advisory and administrative service in respect of residence permits, work permits and visa formalities.

Corporate and M&A: GVZH acts as lead counsel in various M&A transactions in various sectors including pharmaceuticals, financial services, telecommunications, remote gaming and payment institutions.

Employment/industrial relations: GVZH Advocates provides an array of employment-related solutions (contracts of service, dismissals, redundancies, transfers of employees between undertakings, equal treatment in the workplace and the implementation of appropriate systems and procedures for clients’ HR).

Intellectual property: the firm advises on developing legal strategies to maximise and protect the commercial potential of brands, ideas and technological advances.

Litigation and arbitration: legal services rendered to the company in connection with high-profile litigation concerning corporate governance measures, minority rights issues and related matters.

Real estate: advising on the sale and purchase of commercial and residential property, financing, real estate funds, property development, leasing and portfolio management.

Tax: GVZH Advocates has particular strength advising on novel and complex issues in the corporate finance, personal finance, structured finance, financial services and real estate sectors.

Technology, media and telecommunications: GVZH advises on all aspects in the areas of TM: intellectual property, data protection and freedom of information, licensing and regulations of various e-commerce models including remote gaming operators.

Department Name Email Telephone
Banking and finance
Citizenship and residence
Competition/antitrust regulations
Corporate and M&A
Culture and entertainment
Data protection
Employment and industrial relations
Financial service regulations
Intellectual property
Litigation and arbitration
Prevention of money laundering
Projects and public procurement
Real estate
Technology media and communications (TMT)
Trusts, foundations and voluntary organisations
Photo Name Position Profile
Dr Jonathan Abela  photo Dr Jonathan Abela
Dr Katrina Abela  photo Dr Katrina Abela
Dr Francesca Anastasi  photo Dr Francesca Anastasi
Dr Karl Briffa  photo Dr Karl Briffa
Dr Ann Bugeja  photo Dr Ann Bugeja
Dr Jeanelle Cachia  photo Dr Jeanelle Cachia
Dr Katia Cachia  photo Dr Katia Cachia
 Abigail Camilleri  photo Abigail Camilleri
Mr Josef Cardona  photo Mr Josef Cardona
 Danica Decesare  photo Danica Decesare
Dr Jonathan Demaria  photo Dr Jonathan Demaria
Dr Ariana Falzon  photo Dr Ariana Falzon
Dr Gianluca Falzon  photo Dr Gianluca Falzon
Dr Nicola Fenech Conti  photo Dr Nicola Fenech Conti
Dr Albert Grech  photo Dr Albert Grech
Dr Michael Grech  photo Dr Michael Grech
Dr Annabel Hili  photo Dr Annabel Hili
 Francesca Hili  photo Francesca Hili
Dr Kurt Hyzler  photo Dr Kurt Hyzler
Dr Gayle KImberley  photo Dr Gayle KImberley
Dr Brandon Meli  photo Dr Brandon Meli
 Marita Pillow  photo Marita Pillow
Dr Cynthia Portelli  photo Dr Cynthia Portelli
Dr Amanda Vella  photo Dr Amanda Vella
Dr Joseph J. Vella  photo Dr Joseph J. Vella
Dr Luca Vella  photo Dr Luca Vella
Dr Andrew J Zammit  photo Dr Andrew J Zammit
Number of lawyers : 27
Employment Law Alliance (ELA)
LNI International
International Bar Association (IBA)
International Trade Mark Association (INTA)
International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL)

Andrew J Zammit, Managing Partner

Andrew J Zammit, Managing Partner

What do you see as the main points that differentiate gvzh advocates from your competitors?

The principles that define GVZH Advocates most accurately are: Acumen, Clarity and Integrity.

Acumen is the insight that we bring to our clients and their businesses through the accumulated knowledge and experience in various sectors and industries. We ensure that our advice is practical, relevant and creative and adds true value to our clients’ needs.

Clarity permeates the setting of deliverables and objectives, our thought-process and perhaps most importantly the use of language, whether written or spoken. We spend the initial phases of our interaction with a client setting clearly structured deliverables and objectives, which will serve as the basis of our involvement in a particular brief or project; we seek to de-construct and analyse problems, structure our thoughts in an easily discernible way and present them to our clients for their consideration and input; and we do our utmost to use language which is clear, direct and suited for the specific context for which it is intended.

Integrity is an absolute quality and cannot be compromised to any degree. For this reason we attribute much importance to this quality in everything we do – from the open, honest way that we interact with clients, colleagues and members of the judiciary, to the management of any internal ethical considerations that do arise in the course of our professions.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

We expect that the largest growth in terms of both volumes of work and revenue generation will be in the areas of finance and technology, and the point at which the two converge – Fintech. Malta has positioned itself very actively as a centre of innovation for new technologies, including crypto currencies and the wider realm of blockchain technologies. One of the main drivers of this growth is the fact that the Government of Malta has demonstrated a clear commitment towards the development sector.

As a firm we have been actively involved in fintech models over the past 10 years and we continue to broaden our skills, knowledge and understanding of new developments in this space, including ICOs and the various applications of blockchain technology.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

Over the past 24 months we have undergone significant structural and organizational change, developing people, processes and systems to deliver better efficiencies all-round. We have invested in training, established clearer responsibilities and internal reporting lines, adopted procedures to enhance the quality of our output and the overall security of our people and our systems, and implemented technologies that serve to enable our professionals to achieve more in less time.

The results of these efforts have already begun to bear fruits and have given us the impetus to maintain an attitude of continuous transformation to keep both the firm and all its professionals ahead of the curve in an ever-changing legal services environment. It is clear that adaptability is becoming an increasingly valuable quality if we are to maintain our value as professionals in today’s fast-moving world.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Yes, it is. We tend to use various technologies to communicate, manage and execute more effectively. Although we have not yet committed any investment towards an artificial intelligence, we are watching this space very closely and welcome the immense efficiencies that we stand to gain from the deployment of effective AI tools within our practice. I look forward to the years ahead with much enthusiasm.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

Clients looking at establishing their operations or part of their operations in Malta regularly call upon us for our guidance and connections within the local industry. Over the past few years we have assisted one of our clients – a listed group which includes a financial institution operation licensed in Malta – to identify, secure and acquire office premises in a strategic location in Malta.

We have also had several instances were key executives who were critical for our clients’ Malta operations were identified by the firm and secured by our clients. We have experienced this in various sectors including high-tech manufacturing, financial services and technology. These are tangible examples of the way we apply our acumen to deliver all-round professional support to our clients.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Having a stable and strategic partner for legal services is imperative for any successful business.  Clients have become increasingly more discerning in identifying strategic partnerships with law firms. Thus, for example, in the past couple of years, we have undergone detailed due diligence processes prior to being selected as the preferred legal advisors in Malta to some large organisations.

Much of these processes focused on the security and robustness of our technology systems and the protection of confidential data, which essentially form part of the stability and security considerations that have become central to any outsourcing decision.

It is also clear that many large organisations tend to seek more than one law firm to handle their needs, ensuring that they tap into particular strengths and expertise to match their requirements on a case-by-case basis. In this way, the strategic edge offered by each firm becomes the single most important determining factor as to whether or not it is selected for a specific brief.

GVZH Advocates appoints new Partners

Dr Luca Vella and Dr Kurt Hyzler have been admitted as Partners of GVZH Advocates within the firm’s Corporate, Mergers and Acquisitions, Capital Markets, Banking and Finance and Financial Services Industry practice groups.

Dr. Katrina Abela selected as an Advocacy Committee member of the European Business Aviation Associa

GVZH Advocates is delighted to announce that senior associate Katrina Abela has been selected as a member of the first Advocacy Committee of the European Business Aviation Association.

Temporary Work Permits

It has been recently announced that Identity Malta would reduce the application time of a single work permit by weeks, by allowing foreign workers to start working (on a temporary basis) as soon as their application was approved.

Introduction of new MGA Regulatory Framework moves to 1st August 2018

Further to the notification of the draft legal framework regulating gaming in Malta through the Technical Regulation Information System, a Detailed Opinion has been issued by a Member State in relation to the current draft of the Gaming Authorisations Regulations (the “Regulations”) and the European Commission and another Member State have also issued comments in relation to the various proposed legislative instruments.

Malta Ahead of the Game: Three cryptocurrency and blockchain Bills passed the second reading stage

During a conference organised by the Malta Institute of Management, Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri, announced that the three crypto-related bills, namely the Malta Digital Innovation Authority Bill, the Innovation Technological Arrangements and Services Bill, and the Virtual Financial Assets Bill will pass through the second reading in Parliament, and in fact yesterday evening the Maltese Parliament finalised the second reading stage. The bills will now move on to the committee stage and then on to the third reading stage. Once the third reading in parliament is concluded the bills will then be presented to the President of Malta for her assent and become law.

Extension of the Special Designated Areas

By virtue of Legal Notice 181 of 2018, the list of Special Designated Areas has been extended to now include the Southridge Development in Mellieha.

In terms of Chapter 246 of the Laws of Malta, the following table would need to be followed for the acquisition of immovable property in Malta:

Deduction for Transportation Cost of Employees Rules

At the end of February, the Deduction for Transportation Cost of Employees Rules were published through LN67 of 2018. These rules shall apply with respect to transportation costs incurred for the transport of employees as from the year of assessment 2018. These rules shall remain in effect up to the year of assessment 2020.

VAT Grouping Regulations

By Virtue of L.N. 162, the newly implemented VAT Grouping regulations shall come into force as of 1st June 2018. VAT Grouping will enable members of a VAT Group to avoid irrecoverable VAT due on charges made between such members. Applicants forming the VAT Group will be required to be bound by financial, economic and organisational links. Moreover, one of the applicants within the VAT Group must be a taxable person who is licensed or recognised by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) or the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA).

Deduction for Transportation Cost of Employees Rules

At the end of February, the Deduction for Transportation Cost of Employees Rules were published through LN67 of 2018. These rules shall apply with respect to transportation costs incurred for the transport of employees as from the year of assessment 2018. These rules shall remain in effect up to the year of assessment 2020.

Notional Interest Deduction (NID) Rules

By virtue of Legal Notice 37 of 2018, the Maltese government introduced the Notional Interest Deduction (NID) Rules. Traditionally, businesses operating in Malta finance their operation via debt, given that interest is a deductible taxable expense. On the other hand, equity funded business do not have a corresponding deduction and hence the NID aims to equate the tax treatment of debt and equity by allowing the deduction of a notional interest over equity.

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) Publishes Industry Guidelines on the General Data Protection Regula

In anticipation of the coming into force of the GDPR, the MGA, in consultation with the Office of the Information and Data Protection Commissioner (“IDPC”) has issued a guidance document which intends to provide B2C licensees with guidance on the processing of personal data carried out throughout the course of their gaming service operations.