Persons against whom proceedings may be instituted (Substituted
by: X. 1996.11)
23. Criminal proceedings for any offence under Part II and civil
proceedings under Part III of this Act may be instituted against each of
the following persons>
(a) the author, if he shall shall have composed the work for
the purpose of its being published, or if he shall have consented
(b) the editor;
or, if the said persons cannot be identified,
(c) the publisher.
Proof that the writing is a copy not to constitute a valid defence
24. It shall be no defence for any of the persons mentioned in the
last preceding section to prove that the writing is a copy, or an
extract, or abridgement, or a translation of another writing which has
been otherwise printed and published.
Person making a public speech (Added by: X. 1996.12)
24A. The criminal and the civil actions mentioned in section 23 of
this Act may also be instituted against any person who shall have made a
public speech in circumstances where he was aware or could have
reasonably been aware or have expected that the content of his speech
was going to be published in a newspaper or a broadcasting medium and in
fact is in whole or in part so published.
Editor, etc., presumed to have acted knowingly (Amended by: X.
25. (1) The persons mentioned in section 23 of this Act shall be
deemed to have acted knowingly, in default of evidence to the contrary.
(2) The editor and, where applicable, the publisher shall be deemed
to have acted knowingly if, being aware of the contents of the
newspaper, broadcast or other printed matter, as the case may be, at any
time before its publication, they did not prevent such publication.
Punishment for printer or editor who has not acted knowingly (Amended
by: X. 1996.14)
26. The persons mentioned in section 23 of this Act, who shall not
have acted knowingly, shall be liable to the punishments for
Criminal action independent of civil action
27. Criminal proceedings are independent of civil proceedings. Both
proceedings may be instituted at the same time or separately.
Damages or defamatory libel (Amended by: XIII. 1983.5; X. 1996.15)
28. (1) In the case of defamation, by any means mentioned in section
3 of this Act, the object of which is to take away or injure the
reputation of any person, the competent civil court may, in addition to
the damages which may be due under any law for the time being in force
in respect of any actual loss, or injury, grant to the person libelled a
sum not exceeding five thousand liri.
(2) In any case to which this section applies, the defendant may, in
mitigation of damages, prove that he made or offered to make an apology
to the plaintiff for such defamation before the commencement of the
action for damages or, as soon afterwards as he had an opportunity of
doing so in case the action shall have been commenced before there was
an opportunity of making or offering such apology;
Provided that the defendant shall not be allowed to make such proof
in mitigation of damages if he has raised the plea of justification in
terms of section 12 of this Act.
Slander of title and trade libel (Amended by: XIII. 1983.5; X.
29. Whosoever, by any means mentioned in section 3 of this Act, shall
publish any statement which he knows or with due diligence could have
known to be false and which is likely to damage any business concern or
other property, shall be liable to pay, in addition to the damages which
may be due under any law for the time being in force in respect of any
actual loss or injury, a sum not exceeding five thousand liri to be
fixed by the competent court.
Separate action in respect of separate imputations (Amended by:
XIII. 1983.5; X. 1996.17)
30. It shall be lawful to take action in respect of each and every
imputation in the same libel, and the persons concerned in the libel may
be sued either jointly or severally>
Provided that the amount of damages or penalties recoverable in
regard to the same libel shall not exceed five thousand liri.
Action to be instituted on complaint of injured party (Cap. 9)
31. (1) Criminal proceedings for any offence under sections 11 and 21
may not be instituted except on the complaint of the injured party or of
the persons mentioned in section 542 of the Criminal Code.
Amended by: X. 1996.18
(2) All provisions of the Criminal Code relating to proceedings on
private complaint, including in particular the provisions of section 373
of that Code, shall, so far as applicable, apply to proceedings on
private complaint under this section>
Provided that the provisions of paragraph (d) of section 374 of the
Criminal Code shall not apply in respect of criminal proceedings
instituted in terms of the foregoing provisions of this section after
the complainant has confirmed his complaint on oath before the Court and
the absence of the complainant from the court at any stage of the
proceedings shall not be deemed to constitute the abandonment of the
proceedings or the withdrawal of the complaint if the said absence is
subsequent to the said confirmation of the complaint on oath by the
Limitation of actions and prosecutions
32. Criminal action for any offence under Part lI of this Act and the
civil action under sections 28 and 29 shall be barred by prescription
after the lapse of one year.
Privileged publications (Amended by: LVIII. 1974.68; L.N. 148 of
1975; XII. 1978.11; X. 1996.19)
33. No action shall lie in respect of the following publications:
(a) publications made in pursuance of an Act of Parliament or
by authority of the President of Malta or of the House of
(b) publications consisting of communications between public
officers, or between such officers and contractors of the public service
or officials of public corporations, reports of inquiries held in terms
of any law, or statements by public officers that are made in good faith
in the interests of national security, territorial integrity, public
safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime or for the protection of
health or morals;
(c) publications of bona fide reports of debates of the
House of Representatives, provided the relevant part of the debate is
published, and the defence of any person against whom any charge is made
is not suppressed or maliciously or negligently curtailed or altered;
(d) publications of reports of any proceedings in a court of
justice in Malta, provided such reports are fair reports of the
proceedings and the publication of such reports or proceedings is not
prohibited by law or by the court;
Provided that it shall not be lawful to publish
(a) anything which, by section 994 of the Code of Organization
and Civil Procedure, is forbidden to be used or produced, or
(b) any report of the proceedings in any case of defamation,
in which evidence of the truth of the matters charged is not allowed by