During a recent press conference at the Malta Competition and
Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA), the MCCAA and the Ministry for
Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties introduced
two new charters that focus on the rights and duties of consumers
in relation to the provision of financial and banking services.
These two charters were primarily introduced with the intention of
raising awareness among consumers once they decide to invest their
money, or when engaging a banking service of their choice.
The Minster responsible for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs,
and Civil Liberties stated that these two charters will offer the
necessary level of safeguards, equip consumers with all the
essential information in order for them to be able to make well
informed decisions, and instill a sense of confidence in consumers.
Indeed, Helga Pizzuto, Chair of the MCCAA, asserted that these
charters were drafted with the aim of addressing the consumers'
needs, and in order to publish reliable charters the MCCAA
collaborated with the Malta Funds Industry Association, the Malta
Association of Small Shareholders, the Malta Bankers'
Association, the Malta Financial and Services Authority and the
College of Stockbrokers.
The charter on
investments provides information to those investors who are
less knowledgeable and therefore are deemed to be more at risk when
compared to experienced investors. In fact, a financial
investment services is legally obliged to assess the
investor's level of knowledge and experience in relation to
previous investments in comparable products. This charter
specifically provides intermediaries with recommendations on how to
establish the expectations an objectives of their clients. The
intermediary also has an obligation to question the investor so as
to build a clear picture of what he expects to receive out of the
The other charter, namely the charter on banking services states
that local banks must ensure that they provide consumers with good
and efficient services and they should also treat consumers with
utmost respect and integrity. Moreover, banks should ensure that
consumers are aware of all costs relating to the services which
they offer. Such information is to be granted both before and after
the contract is signed. Information relating to fees must be
available on the bank's website and from all bank branches. The
charter additionally states that consumers should also be conscious
of the fact that they have a right to switch banks in Malta without
facing any undue delays. With respect to the advertising of
products and services, consumers anticipate that such advertising
is unambiguous and honest. Thus, any information that includes
references to payments, conditions and interest are to be presented
clearly in all advertising mediums.
With respect to both
financial and banking services, it is noteworthy to point out
that if a consumer is not satisfied with the service or if his
rights have been infringed, the consumer may complain with either
the bank or the person who had provided the financial service.
Nevertheless, if the consumer remains displeased with the provided
feedback, he has the right to seek a remedy before the newly
established Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services.
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.
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