On March 13, Fenech & Fenech Advocates seized an A320-211 from a Lufthansa Technik workshop on the island of Malta for non payment of dues related to the lease of the aircraft. Although the two parties have since negotiated a settlement and the aircraft returned to the airline concerned, the action is significant as it is the first time that an aircraft has been arrested in Malta under the terms of the new provisions of law introduced on October 1, 2010 by virtue of the Aircraft Registration Act (ARA). The ARA brought into force some amendments to the Code of Organisation and Civil Procedure (COCP) introducing new provisions for the arrest of aircraft (both precautionary and executive). Previously, the COCP only provided for the arrest of sea going vessels but did not provide for the arrest of aircraft.
Moreover the arrest was only possible because the lessor had its interest in the aircraft registered as an international security interest in the International Registry set up in terms of the Cape Town Convention which was ratified by Malta with effect from February 1, 2011. Because the amount of the claim was less than €1,000,000, the COCP does not allow for a warrant of arrest to be obtained for claims below this amount unless the claimant’s interest is registered on the International Registry.