Current Affairs
Three NGOs in court battle over occupation of palace in Valletta

A dispute on a palace used by three organisations has ended up in Court after the Malta Arts Society initiated a case against the Malta Horticultural Society and the Agrarian Society to vacate from two rooms they have at the Palazzo de La Salle.

The palace in Republic Street, Valletta, has been used by the three societies since 1923 following a free concession subjected to various conditions, including that the rooms are allocated according to the site plan and that the great hall will be common to the three societies.

It emerged in Court that according to a contract three years ago, the Government conceded with an emphyteusis title for 30 years of the Palazzo de La Salle to the Malta Arts Society. The latter is now requesting the other two societies to vacate the rooms they occupy in the palace. However, the Horticultural Society and the Agrarian Society insist that they are not occupying the rooms illegally and with abuse.

The Arts Society had been long showing interest in the building and money was spent for its restoration. Three years ago, the three societies agreed to restore the chapel, and the Agrarian society vacated it. However, the Arts society continued to object that the other societies occupy the two rooms adjacent to the chapel.

An on-the-spot inquiry by the Court last March showed that the Horticultural and Agrarian societies removed objects from the chapel and vacated it. However the Arts Society argued that with the signing of the contract with the Government for 30 years, a clause gives it the right to end the original 1923 concession given to the other societies.

The other two societies claim that if someone occupies the place without a title, the right remains to continue using the place.

Presiding Judge Lorraine Schembri Orland stated that before the Government grants the place to the Malta Arts Society and does not withdraw the 1923 concession, it cannot be concluded that the two other societies are occupying the rooms abusively and, despite having no legal title, they remain with the right to use the place.

Therefore, the Court rejected the requests by the Malta Arts Society and decided in favour of the Horticultural and Agrarian Societies to continue occupying the two rooms at the Palazzo de La Salle in Valletta.