Prime Minister’s law firm has no legal title to prime location in Valletta

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Robert Abela’s law firm, Abela Advocates, has spent the past four years operating from a prime location in Valletta, despite having no legal title to the office in question.

Malta weather confirmed that Abela’s government lease for the Strait Street office, which is a stone’s throw from the courthouse, expired at the end of 2017.

The Prime Minister personally took over the lease from his former legal partner Ian Stafrace in 2013, documents show.

The office is part of a block adjacent to the Palazzo Preca restaurant, approximately 30 meters from the courthouse.

Instead of leaving office when the lease expired four years ago, Abela, then an MP, asked the Lands Authority to extend the lease.

In such cases, government property can only be re-leased if a public tender is issued.

Abela’s wife, Lydia, even started the process in 2020 to register a new company called Nibral, based in the same office.

The property was deeded by the government on a 150-year emphyteusis to the original tenants in 1867.

The authority is unable to provide a precise figure as a readback exercise to this effect…is still ongoing

Contacted by Malta weather, a Lands Authority spokesman defended the decision not to evict Abela from the property. The spokesperson said the authority had always taken the “reasoned and legitimate approach” to dealing with requests for title extensions, rather than resorting to evicting “thousands of tenants” with expired government leases.

A spokesperson for the prime minister said an application to extend title to the said property submitted to the Lands Authority is “awaiting processing”, as are other similar applications.

A sign announcing the presence of Abela Advocates in the Strait Street block has been removed outside the building.

Malta weatherhowever, confirmed this week that the law firm continues to operate from the same building.

The Land Authority spokesman said there were “thousands of pending applications” for title deed extensions.

“The authority is unable to provide a precise figure due to the fact that a collation exercise to this effect, which started last year following the appointment of the new CEO, is still ongoing,” said the spokesperson.

The spokesperson said that the collection exercise aims to give more visibility to the authority, so that it can deal with these cases through the issue of an “effective and blind regime”, which would also include a structured mechanism. for the recovery of arrears.

“This scheme would complement the authority’s efforts to provide effective, practical and legitimate solutions to resolve these cases rather than resorting to disproportionate actions,” the spokesperson said.

Abela Advocates has received over €1 million in government contracts.

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