Gibraltar: Gibraltar's Constitution & Legal System

Last Updated: 26 March 1999
Click Contact Link


Geography



Gibraltar is a peninsular with approximately 3 square miles situated at the southernmost tip of Spain. It is poised between two continents guarding the gateway to the Mediterranean and is one of the legendary Pillars of Hercules. Its population is approximately 30,000 enjoying a typically warm Mediterranean climate. Most inhabitants are bilingual in English and Spanish although the official language is English.

History



Gibraltar has achieved political stability and a solidarity with Britain which has been growing since its capture in 1704. The Rock of Gibraltar was formerly ceded, in perpetuity, to Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713.

European Union



Gibraltar enjoys a special relationship with the European Union. Whilst Gibraltar under Article 227(4) of the EEC Treaty is within the European Union by virtue of being a European territory for whose external relations Britain is responsible, Article 28 of the 1971 UK Assession Treaty relieves Gibraltar from the common customs tariff, the common agricultural policy and the harmonisation of turnover taxes, in particular VAT.

European Economic Area



Gibraltar is within the European Economic Area. There is no doubt that it forms part of the Single European Market for services, including financial services. That is accepted by the Commission in Brussels and by all member States. In order to reap the economic benefits which that can bring, it is important for Gibraltar to be in a position whereby it can take full advantage of its position and for its financial institutions to be able to passport their services throughout the European Economic Area.

A considerable amount of time and effort has been, and is being, expended on the difficult task of transposing into Gibraltar law all European Union Directives that relate to financial services. The assistance and co-operation of the UK has been plentiful and its substantial experience is helpful in ensuring that the required standards are achieved in Gibraltar's legislation.

It is hoped that all the necessary legislation will be in place, and other obstacles cleared, in the not too distant future so that minds can focus on the future development of the finance centre and the Government of the United Kingdom can be in a position to promote and defend Gibraltar's interests within the European Economic Area, as it has undertaken to do when the legislative and supervisory requirements are satisfied.

The Treaty of Rome applies to the European Territories for whose external relations a Member State is responsible, unless such a territory is specifically excluded. Hence Gibraltar's inclusion in the European Union and the European Economic Area. Although Gibraltar is a separate jurisdiction from the United Kingdom, in the eyes of other Member States, the United Kingdom and Gibraltar are one and the same Member State.

Currency and Exchange Control



Gibraltar's currency is the Gibraltar pound. The sterling pound is also accepted in Gibraltar on a one to one basis with the Gibraltar pound. There are no exchange controls in Gibraltar.

Communications



Gibraltar enjoys a sophisticated communications system boasting the most up to date telephone and satellite communication systems as well as regular air services to London.

Political and Legal System



Britain is responsible for Gibraltar's defence and foreign policy. Britain appoints the Governor who is a representative of the Crown in Gibraltar. However Gibraltar is self governing and its democratically elected House of Assembly enables Gibraltar to maintain its independent tax status and enact laws independently of Britain thereby ensuring the development of Gibraltar as a finance centre. The legal system is based on the common law and statute law of England and therefore embodies the advantage and security of British company and trust law.

Sovereignty



Gibraltar's Sovereignty is assured by the preamble to the Gibraltar Constitution Order 1969 in which Britain assures the people of Gibraltar that Britain will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their freely and democratically expressed wishes.

The Constitution



The Constitution governs the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual including freedom of conscience and expression. It also governs the appointment of the Governor and the Deputy Governor, the legislature, the executive, the judicature, finance and the public service.

The Legislature



The Legislature of Gibraltar consists of the Governor and the Gibraltar House of Assembly. The Assembly consists of the speaker, the Attorney General and the Financial and Development Secretary as ex-officio members, and 15 democratically elected members.

The power of the legislature to make laws is exercisable by bills passed by the assembly and assented to by the Governor on behalf of Her Majesty. Whilst the executive authority vests in the Governor it is the Chief Minister and usually 7 Ministers which constitute the Government of Gibraltar with the remaining 7 elected members constituting the opposition. The present Government of Gibraltar, unlike previous Governments, consists of 8 full time Ministers responsible for defined domestic matters.

The Court System



The Supreme Court of Gibraltar has unlimited jurisdiction to hear and determine any civil or criminal proceedings under any law. It presently consists of two Judges, namely the Chief Justice and an additional Judge appointed by the Governor.

The Court of Appeal consists of a President and a number of Justices of Appeal. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is an ex-officio member of the Court of Appeal for all purposes except for the purpose of constituting the Court of Appeal for the hearing and determination of an appeal from his own decision. For the purpose of any determination of the Court of Appeal an uneven number of Judges shall sit which shall not be less than three.

The constitution governs the instances where, as of right, an appeal shall lie from decisions of the Supreme Court to the Court of Appeal and thence to Her Majesty in Council and the instances where the leave of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal is required.

The lower courts of Gibraltar consist of the Court of First Instance, which is similar to the County court in the United Kingdom, the Coroner's Court and the Magistrates' Court.

Common Law and Statute Law



The legal system of Gibraltar is based on the common law and statute law of England. In 1962 the English Law (Application) Ordinance was passed declaring the extent to which English law is in force in Gibraltar. The common law and the rules of equity from time to time in force in England apply to Gibraltar subject to any modifications or exclusions made by Her Majesty in Council, an act of Parliament or an Ordinance passed by the House of Assembly of Gibraltar.

In all causes or matters in which there is any conflict or variance between the common law and the rules of equity with reference to the same subject, the rules of equity prevail. The Ordinance further lists in it schedule the statute law of England which applies to Gibraltar.

Whilst the legal system is based on that of England the statute law has developed differently insofar as the House of Assembly has enacted and amended laws to suit Gibraltar's own particular requirements. This can be seen in particular areas such as landlord and tenant law as regards the protection of the right of all Gibraltarians to a secure home balanced against the need for the development of Gibraltar as an offshore finance centre. As well as the security of a legal system based on the common law and statute law in England, Gibraltar's lawyers and accountants are trained in the United Kingdom.

Legal Profession



Gibraltar enjoys the benefits of a fused legal profession so that barristers and solicitors enjoy the same rights and privileges as regards appearances in court and direct contact with clients. The Chief Justice may approve admit and enrol as barristers any persons who have been admitted as barristers in England or Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland or as advocates in the Court of session in Scotland. Likewise in the case of solicitors any persons who have been admitted as solicitors of the Supreme Court of Judicature in England or any Court of Record in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland or a solicitor in administrative practice in Scotland and all such persons shall be at liberty to act also as barristers.

Financial Services Commission



With the passing of the Financial Services Ordinance and the appointment of a Financial Services Commission dedicated to regulating investment business in Gibraltar people should be confident that Gibraltar has the necessary expertise, regulation and supervision to ensure the maximum protection for the investor or client whilst at the same time ensuring the development of Gibraltar as an offshore finance centre.

CONTACT

Anthony Fisher

Finance Centre Development Director
Department of Trade & Industry
Government of Gibraltar
Suite 771, Europort
Gibraltar

Tel No:  + 350 50011
Fax No:  + 350 47677
E-mail:   Click Contact Link 

Website:  Click Contact Link 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.