Legal Notice no. 166 of 2023, which for the first time will introduce in Malta the Licensing of contractors was published today in the Government Gazette and came into force. The Legal Notice obligates every contractor working in the fields of demolition, excavation, and construction to apply for a Licence with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). BCA will start receiving online applications as from next Monday 24th July 2023 on its website www.bca.org.mt.
Those contractors who apply in this stipulated period will be able to continue operating while their application is being evaluated by a Licensing Committee which will be set up in accordance with what is stipulated in the Legal Notice. Contractors who do not apply by the end of October 2023 will not be able to work in demolition, excavation, and construction work. Those who apply for a licence from 1st November 2023 will have to wait for the provisional approval of their application which will be issued by the Licensing Committee so that they can operate until the licence is eventually issued in full. The Licensing Committee will be obliged to issue this provisional approval within 60 days from the date of application.
During the period in which the application is being evaluated, each contractor will be responsible for fulfilling all the obligations according to the law. This includes ensuring that the work execution is in conformity with the practices, the guidelines and the regulations covering the service activities for which the licence is being requested. The Contractors must also observe any direction issued by the architect or any other person responsible by law, as well as any conditions, method statement and requirements linked to the building and construction that are imposed by any regulatory entity.
Contractors who apply for a licence will be required to ensure that any work they do is covered by a valid insurance policy. This will cover any loss or damage that any person may suffer as a result of any act or omission on the part of the licensed contractor or employees working under his direction during the time works are taking place, as well as for damages at the place of work, including damage any employees may suffer. The Building and Construction Authority may consider that any contravention committed by a contractor whose application is still being evaluated by the Licensing Committee may lead to his application being rejected and therefore the applicant will not be able to continue working. On the other hand, contractors who have obtained a licence and commit an offence may have their licence suspended or withdrawn.
The Legal Notice also establishes a schedule of penalties that may be incurred by contractors who are working without a licence or with a suspended licence or in violation of the licence conditions. These can vary from prison sentences not exceeding six months to administrative penalties that can go up to €50,000 and further fines up to a maximum of €5,000 per day. The decisions of the Authority regarding the revocation or suspension of a licence can be appealed before a Tribunal which is set up in accordance with the Act. The Legal Notice also explains what are the contractors' requested criteria when they apply for a demolition Licence, excavation which also includes piling, and construction work. There is also a schedule of administrative fees that every contractor must pay when applying for a licence or for the renewal of such licence. The payment schedule varies according to whether a contractor works alone without engaging employees or according to the number of employees he employs. In addition to the Legal Notice on the Licensing of Contractors, the Legal Notice that puts into effect these regulations and the declaration of the Minister for the Economy to exempt the two month waiting period before the regulations come into force was also published.