Firm Profile > GVZH Advocates > Valletta, Malta

GVZH Advocates

Banking, finance and capital markets Tier 2

The 'simply outstandingAndrew Zammit heads the team at GVZH Advocates, which is 'quick, smooth and effective in dealing with clients'. Recent work includes advising Goldman Sachs, Idox plc and ATW Fund Partners on the formation of local securities packages, as well as handling cross-border insolvency matters for EFG Bank's Singapore branch in connection with a multi-purpose credit facility. Also of note is the legal and regulatory advice provided to Mastercard, while Santander Bank Polska SA, Edmond de Rothschild S.A. and Endo Finance plc are among a further pool of significant new clients. Luca Vella and Kurt Hyzler were both promoted to partner in January 2019.


Quick, smooth and effective in dealing with clients.’

Reliable – very fast – flexible.

Andrew Zammit is simply outstanding. Commercial, fast and experienced.

Deep knowledge – pragmatic approach to changed circumstances.

Key clients

Goldman Sachs


ATW Fund Partners

EFG Bank Singapore Branch

Investec Bank plc (Irish branch)

Baker McKenzie Australia

Santander Bank Polska


Arco Capital

Calamatta Cuschieri

ENDO Finance plc

SP Finance plc

Hili Finance Company plc

Stenn International

Edmond de Rothschild (Suisse) SA

Liechtensteinische Landesbank (Österreich) AG

Commercial, corporate and M&A Tier 2

The 'highly professional' GVZH Advocates practice is 'one-stop shop' for corporate, commercial and M&A matters in Malta. Headed by managing partner Andrew Zammit, Kurt Hyzler and Luca Vella, who is noted for his 'dedication, availability and market knowledge', the team has an international reach in cross-border and Malta-regulated transactions. Its recent workload includes handling a due diligence exercise for Corsair Investments LP regarding two Maltese entities and a change of control application made with the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA); assisting Corel Corporation with the transfer of assets between two Maltese parties; and advising on a new incorporation to become part of the O’Flaherty Group.


One-stop shop type of firm, with a team of specialist advocates from diverse backgrounds.’

Luca Vella – dedication and availability; market knowledge.’

A highly professional team, with team members who keep each other updated in a way that it does not matter with whom I am communicating – all team members would be aware on what is going on. The team consistently delivers a top quality service; at reasonable prices. With the support of GVZH, I feel that my mind is at rest and I can concentrate on my own tasks.’

Highly professional team members across the whole team, with fast response times.’

Key clients

Corsair Investments, L.P.

Corel Corporation


DNXCorp SE (listed on Euronext Paris) and SysCapital Limited

GoTo Car Sharing

O’Flaherty (MML Holding)

Insomnia Coffee

ATW Fund Partners

CVC Advisers Company (Luxembourg) S.à r.l

Lockton Companies LLP


Dispute resolution Tier 2

GVZH Advocates predominantly handles commercial disputes, with a significant proportion of its caseload having an international dimension. The team acted for GasanMamo Insurance Limited in motor-related litigation; acted for the Malta Gaming Authority in defending a civil suit for damages; and represented Catena Media plc in proceedings before the Maltese Industrial Tribunal. Practice head Karl Briffa and associate Ariana Falzon 'go to great lengths to understand the complex issues that underlie' all matters and have 'a high level of attention to detail'.

Practice head(s):


I enjoy working with GVZH because they always give our issues the required amount of attention regardless of the size of the dispute. We are assisted by them in both major and minor disputes and the attention to detail is present no matter the scale.’

I have to mention Joseph Vella, Karl Briffa and Ariana Falzon here as not only are they experts at litigation, but they go to great lengths to understand the complex issues that underlie the disputes that we have.’

In my professional career I have dealt with most major law firms on the island but I only recently had a professional relationship with GVZH. I have found the firm to have a professional approach and invariably provide well researched advice and good judgement. The firm stood out for the commitment it extended to our company, a classical case of feeling like being the firm’s most important client.’

Dr. Briffa has proved to be a pillar of support.’

Vast mix of expertise covering all sectors.’

Key clients

Gasan Mamo

Francis Busuttil & Sons Limited, B&S Contractors Limited and several shareholders thereof

Malta Gaming Authority

The Quad Ltd (TumasGasan Holdings Limited)

Catena Media PLC

Foster Clark Products Limited

Maltapost plc

SmartCity Malta Limited

Cardiff Aviation

Intellectual property Tier 2

Michael Grech heads GVZH Advocates' team, which handles trade mark and patent applications, the prosecution of unlawful competition actions, and enforcement and anti-counterfeiting cases. Highlights included advising GoTo Malta Co. Ltd on the copyright and licensing aspects of a car-sharing business set-up and assisting Just Noise Limited with all contractual, tax and personality rights relating to the production of a motion picture in Malta. Other work for multi-national companies – including HSBC Group, 3M Company and General Motors – concerns the full spectrum of IP-related affairs.

Practice head(s):

Key clients

Unilever plc

HSBC Group

3M Company

International Hotel Investments plc


Avery Dennison

General Electric

L Brands









Cannapharm Technologies

General Motors

GoTo Malta Co. Ltd

Legendary Features Productions US, LLC

Guardian News & Media Limited

Just Noise Limited

Intercontinental Hotel Group

Real estate Tier 2

GVZH Advocates' particular expertise lies in the negotiation of long-term leases alongside the structuring of significant real estate deals. Practice head Karl Briffa is 'well versed and knowledgeable' across the board, while chairman and managing partner Joseph J. Vella 'competently oversees' a range of 'multifarious legal issues'. The team assisted Food Court Limited with the leasing of outlets and all associated government permits; acted for IHI Malta Hotel Limited (Corinthia Group) on the acquisition of the Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa; and is advising SmartCity Malta Limited on a site forming part of its new development in Kalkara.


In my professional career I have dealt with most major law firms on the island but I only recently (circa two years) had a professional relationship with GVZH. I have found the firm to have a professional approach and they invariably provide well-researched advice and good judgement. The firm stood out for the commitment it extended to our company; a classic case of feeling like being the firm’s most important client.’

On real estate matters I invariably deal with Dr. Karl Briffa whom I find well-versed and knowledgeable on most aspects related to real estate.’

We have been working with this law firm for around 35 years. It is a well-resourced firm with a mix of seasoned and younger lawyers who offer timely and constructive advice and solutions to the various complex issues which arise. The firm has an extensive portfolio of high-profile Maltese and international clients which provides greater perspective.’

We work principally with the chairman of the firm, Dr Joseph J. Vella, as well as Dr Luca Vella and Dr Karl Briffa. The Group’s association with Dr J. J. Vella goes back 35 years and he has seen our Group expand its activities internationally in several sectors over the period. In this role he has been ably supported by Dr Luca Vella and Dr Karl Briffa who ensure continuity. This element of continuity is critical to the needs of the Group.’

Key clients

Food Court Limited

IHI Malta Hotel Limited (Corinthia Group)

Spinola Development Company Limited (Tumas Group)

SmartCity Malta Limited

Aviation Tier 3

GVZH Advocates has particular expertise in air operator certificate applications and stands out for its 'professionalism and efficiency' and 'high standards'. Headed by Michael Grech, the practice also assists with formulating leasing structures for private and commercial importation. Senior associate Katrina Abela handles the regulation of aircraft customs and VAT statuses.

Practice head(s):


The team are understanding of our business needs and act with high professionalism and efficiency.’

Lawyers at GVZH identify the client’s need and queries very quickly. Capacity and experience proved.’

They care, they take the time to understand and to review your needs.’

Specialists in the area of aviation, with very high standards in all aspects. Very accurate when advising (Joseph Vella and Katrina Abela).’

Key clients

Tag Aviation


Corominas Abogados & Asesores

Aire International

Fintech Tier 3

The fintech team at GVZH Advocates handles financial services regulation and matters related to technology-based models. Managing partner Andrew Zammit led advice to the shareholders of SysPay Limited on the sale of a 78.5% stake to EMP Corp and assisted Moneybase Limited and Nobel Financial Group with obtaining financial institution licences from the MFSA. Zammit jointly heads the the practice with Kurt Hyzler, who made partner in January 2019.

Key clients

SysPay Limited


Nobel Financial Group

Investment funds Tier 3

GVZH Advocates' practice is able to draw on Kurt Hyzler's considerable experience across the funds sector. Hyzler, who is frequently supported by associate Nicola Fenech Conti, has expertise advising on alternative investments, along with handling the structuring and licensing of collective investment funds. Managing partner Andrew J Zammit is a popular choice for clients in the TMT sector and Luca Vella is also noted. Clients include Hottinger Group, Ana Balat Limited and Capaneo Investments Sicav plc.

Key clients


Calamatta Cuschieri

Hottinger Group

Ana Balat Ltd

Capaneo Investments Sicav plc

Private client Tier 3

GVZH Advocates' private client services are tailored to both individuals and organisations. The firm is able to handle personal and business tax issues alongside residential and visa applications. Karl Briffa heads the team, while associate Ann Bugeja has experience assisting high-net-worth individuals with applications for Malta citizenship through investment.

Practice head(s):

Key clients

Fragomen LLP

Shipping Tier 3

GVZH Advocates provides a 'reliable' and 'efficient' service when handling the registration and transfer of vessels under the Maltese flag or implementing yacht leasing structures. Katrina Abela is 'exceptionally professional' and 'always ready to help and advise'. Notable clients include Alberton Yachts, Spirit Marine Ltd and Pinto Ltd. Michael Grech heads the team.

Practice head(s):


I got a very good recommendation from my colleague, and I proposed for the company CEO to engage GVZH Advocates. They proved themselves as professional, reliable, efficient and helpful in any legal matter in which we asked for their assistance, even more than expected from lawyers. Our company has co-operated with them for four years already and never had any problem with legal matters at all, from representing a VAT company to advising in shipping and other legal matters within Maltese maritime regulation and practice.’

Ms Katrina Dr Abela is exceptionally professional, always ready to help and advise even clients like us, with language not so proficient; we never had misunderstandings and she found a way to make matters understandable and clear for clients… also, her colleagues are the same.’

Key clients

Spirit Marine Limited

Aberton Yachts

Pinto Ltd

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
Aviation Dr Katrina Abela 00356 2122 8888
Banking and finance Dr Luca Vella 00356 2122 8888
Citizenship and residence Dr Karl Briffa 00356 2122 8888
Competition/antitrust regulations Dr Gayle Kimberley 00356 2122 8888
Corporate and M&A Dr Andrew Zammit 00356 2122 8888
Culture and entertainment Dr Andrew Zammit 00356 2122 8888
Data protection Dr Annabel Hili 00356 2122 8888
Employment and industrial relations Dr Karl Briffa 00356 2122 8888
Financial service regulations Dr Kurt Hyzler 00356 2122 8888
Hospitality Dr Joseph J Vella 00356 2122 8888
iGaming Dr Andrew Zammit 00356 2122 8888
Insolvency Dr Andrew Zammit 00356 2122 8888
Intellectual property Dr Michael Grech 00356 2122 8888
Litigation and arbitration Dr Karl Briffa 00356 2122 8888
Prevention of money laundering Dr Andrew Zammit 00356 2122 8888
Projects and public procurement Dr Joseph J Vella 00356 2122 8888
Real estate Dr Karl Briffa 00356 2122 8888
Shipping Dr Michael Grech 00356 2122 8888
Tax Josef Cardona 00356 2122 8888
Technology media and communications (TMT) Dr Andrew Zammit 00356 2122 8888
Trusts, foundations and voluntary organisations Dr Andrew Zammit 00356 2122 8888
Yachting Dr Michael Grech 00356 2122 8888
Photo Name Position Profile
Dr Jonathan Abela  photo Dr Jonathan Abela Tax Advisor
Dr Katrina Abela  photo Dr Katrina Abela Senior Associate
Dr Francesca Anastasi  photo Dr Francesca Anastasi Associate
 Gianluca Barbieri  photo Gianluca Barbieri Tax Associate
Dr Karl Briffa  photo Dr Karl Briffa Partner
Dr Ann Bugeja  photo Dr Ann Bugeja Senior Associate
Dr Jeanelle Cachia  photo Dr Jeanelle Cachia Senior Associate
Dr Katia Cachia  photo Dr Katia Cachia Associate
Mr Josef Cardona  photo Mr Josef Cardona General Manager
 Danica Decesare  photo Danica Decesare Associate
Dr Jonathan Demaria  photo Dr Jonathan Demaria Senior Associate
Dr Ariana Falzon  photo Dr Ariana Falzon Associate
Dr Gianluca Falzon  photo Dr Gianluca Falzon Advocate
Dr Nicola Fenech Conti  photo Dr Nicola Fenech Conti Advocate
Dr Albert Grech  photo Dr Albert Grech Senior Partner
Dr Kurt Hyzler  photo Dr Kurt Hyzler Partner
Dr Gayle KImberley  photo Dr Gayle KImberley Senior Associate
 Simon Mangion  photo Simon Mangion Advocate
 Marita Pillow  photo Marita Pillow Associate
Dr Cynthia Portelli  photo Dr Cynthia Portelli Associate
 Nicole Sciberras Debono  photo Nicole Sciberras Debono Advocate
Dr Amanda Vella  photo Dr Amanda Vella Associate
Dr Joseph J. Vella  photo Dr Joseph J. Vella Chairman & Partner
Dr Luca Vella  photo Dr Luca Vella Partner
Dr Andrew J Zammit  photo Dr Andrew J Zammit Managing Partner
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

Managing Partner Andrew J Zammit explains how GVZH Advocates has adopted a mentality of continuous transformation to keep ahead of the curve in an ever-changing legal services environment.

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.

Malta Gaming Authority publishes Guidance Document on Brexit Impact

The Malta Gaming Authority (“MGA”) has published a guidance note (“Guidelines”) laying out the impact that the United Kingdom’s (“UK”) exit from the European Union (“EU”) will have on regulatory affairs within the remit of the MGA. These Guidelines apply to entities established in Malta and operating in the UK, with a UK licence but without a Maltese Licence, or entities established in the UK providing services and supplies within Malta.

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.