Alison Vassallo is a Partner of Fenech and Fenech Advocates in Malta and heads the Yachting Department. She also works within the Marine Litigation Department.
She qualified as a lawyer in 2004 with a Doctorate of Laws from the University of Malta after presenting her thesis on ‘Recent Initiatives Affecting Port and Vessel Security Regimes’. She proceeded to obtain her Master’s Degree with Distinction in International Maritime Law from the International Maritime Law Institute (IMO) in 2005 and was awarded the IMO Secretary General’s Prize for Best Dissertation for the work ‘Persons Rescued at Sea: Recent Developments and Trends in Coastal State Response’.
She joined Fenech and Fenech Advocates in 2006. For the past 14 years she has been heavily involved in advising and co-ordinating projects for owners and financiers relating to the acquisition and sale of both private yacht and commercial yachts. She has extensive experience in advising clients with regard to registration, financing, chartering, yacht leasing, crewing and fiscal requirements and solutions. Furthermore her areas of practice within the firm embrace all aspects of maritime law including EU shipping law, recognition and enforcement of foreign judgements and arbitral awards, ship arrest and other precautionary measures for obtainment of security and co ordination of tender procedures involving a maritime element.
Alison Vassallo is a Council and Executive Board Member within the Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, is the Chairperson of the Yachting Trade Section within the Chamber of Commerce, an Executive Committee Member of the Malta Maritime Law Association (MMLA) and a Member of the Chamber of Advocates.
Master of Laws (LL.M) in International Maritime Law with distinction conferred by International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) (IMO) Malta. Awarded IMO Secretary General’s Prize for Best Dissertation for the work ‘Persons Rescued at Sea: Recent Developments and Trends in Coastal State Response’. The latter delves into coastal State obligations relating to the treatment of illegal immigrants arriving by sea and covers the impact of the present security-sensitive environment on the coastal State’s concerns to protect its legitimate interests when faced with this problem.
Presented with Warrant to exercise the profession of advocate in the Courts of Malta and Gozo by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice and Home Affairs.
Graduated Doctor of Laws (LL.D) from the University of Malta after submission of LL.D thesis entitled ‘Recent Initiatives Affecting Port and Vessel Security Regimes’ which delves in current developments in maritime security, on both an International and European level, and their subsequent incorporation into Maltese law.
Awarded a scholarship following nomination by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to pursue the IMLI (IMO) LLM programme in Maritime law, starting mid-September 2004 and ending May 2005.
Chosen by the University of Malta and the University of Verona, Italy, to participate in the Erasmus Exchange Programme of the European Union during Semester 1 of the academic year. During such period, undertook studies in the law of International Organizations and EU Labour law.
Graduated Diploma of Notary Public from the University of Malta.
Graduated Bachelor of Arts in legal and Humanistic Studies from the University of Malta.
Publications and Interviews
Speaker at the Virtual 8th Annual Opportunities In Superyachts Conference during a tax panel on ‘Taxing Questions’ held on the 2nd December 2020. The session may be viewed here.
Speaker at the virtual session on the ‘Legal and Fiscal Landscape in 2021’ held on the 26th November 2020 as part of YARE 2020 (Yachting Aftersales & Refit Experience) chaired by John Leonida. https://www.yarenetworking.com/
Speaker at ‘Fiscal Opportunities and Concerns in the Superyacht Industry’ organised during the Balearic Yachting Show , 19th November 2020. The session may be viewed here.
Moderating tax panel at the Marine Money Virtual Superyacht Finance Forum, 27th October 2020. The Forum can be viewed here.
Co–organising and moderating webinar on Port Restrictions Affecting Yachting in collaboration with Quaynote Communication with Janet Xanthopoulos (Rosemont Services), Jennifer Timinis (Oceda), Miguel Angel Serra (Albors Galiano), Ezio Vannucci (Moores Rowland) and Captain Anrija Simic (Simmor Marine) – 26 May 2020. The webinar may be viewed here.
Co–organising and moderating webinar on Port Restrictions Affecting Yachting in collaboration with Quaynote Communication with Janet Xanthopoulos (Rosemont Services), Jennifer Timinis (Oceda), Miguel Angel Serra (Albors Galiano) and Ezio Vannucci (Moores Rowland) – 15 April 2020. Highlights may be viewed here.
The latest tax and regulatory developments, moderation of panel at the 7th Annual Opportunities in Superyachts Conference, Hilton Malta, 28th March 2019
Tax and Ownership Structures, The Superyacht Forum, Amsterdam , 13th November 2018
Panel discussion relative to Leasing Structures in Yachting in the EU, Malta Maritime Summit, 5th October 2018
Panel discussion relative to VAT and Tax; Hosting roundtable on Recent Tax Developments in the EU, 2nd East European Superyacht Conference, Athens, 31st May 2018
Application of VAT treatment of long term chartering of yachts in Malta: an update, Ince & Co Spring Superyacht Seminar, London, 17th May 2018
“Update on the VAT Treatment of Long and Short Term Chartering of Yachts within the EU with particular emphasis on Malta.” – Society Education – Vat Malta 2018 Day Conference, 10th April 2018
Chairing panel discussion on VAT updates and participating in panel relating to the effects of Brexit on the Superyacht Industry, 6th Opportunties in Superyachts Conference, Intercontinental Hotel Malta, 22nd March 2018
“Legal, Tax, Regulatory Review”, speaking about Malta at the panel at the Marine Money 10th Annual Superyacht Finance Forum, Monte Carlo, Monaco, 26th September 2017
ELSA Malta – Maritime Law Summer Law School 2017 – Yachting Law, 23rd August 2017
“Recent Legal Changes affecting the ownership of superyachts”, East Mediterranean Superyacht Summit, The Athens Plaza, Greece, 1st June 2017
“Changing landscapes – factors that may affect the operation of superyachts within the EU”, Opportunities in Superyachts Conference, Hotel Excelsior, Malta, 23rd February 2017.
“An Overview of Recent ECJ Judgements Affecting the Supply of Duty Free Fuel to Yachts and the Future of Yacht Charter Contracts”, VAT Malta 2016, Society Education, 29th November 2016
Panel Invitation, Fiscal Workshop, Global Superyacht Forum, Amsterdam, November 2016
ELSA Malta – Maritime Law Summer Law School 2016 – Yachting Law, 23rd August 2016
“The Recent Challenges & Developments in the Industry”, Yachts & Taxes, MIM Yacht and Superyacht Symposium: The Recent Challenges & Developments in the Industry, Malta Institute of Management, Westin Dragonara Hotel, Malta, 9th June 2016
“Workshop on the compliance of the Yachting Sector with the obligations imposed with the introduction of the Maritime Labour Convention”, Malta Maritime Law Association (MMLA) , Yachting Services Trade Section within the Malta Chamber of Commerce , Enterprise and Industry and Transport Malta, Panel Discussion, Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, 23rd March 2016
“Supportive vs Punitive measures adopted by States towards superyacht ownership – which pays most at the end?” – Opportunties in Superyachts Conference, Intercontinental Hotel, Malta, 10thMarch 2016
‘Yachting in Malta’ – Fenech and Fenech Hosting of 26 Dutch Students as part of an ELSA institutional visit, 2nd February 2016
Bank of Valletta (BOV) – ‘Technical and Skills Development Program” – High Level Insights of Maritime Law and the Industry, 26th January 2016
“VAT & Yachting”, Value Added Tax, Society Education , Intercontinental Malta, 1st December 2015
“Tax, VAT, Corporate Ownership and Registration”, Moderation of Panel at the 3rd Annual Conference on Opportunities in Superyachts held at the Westin Dragonara in Malta on the 26thMarch 2015
“Maritime Careers Symposium”, organised by Transport Malta in Villa Portelli, Kalkara, Malta to mark the International Day of the Seafarer, 25th June 2014
“Chartering and VAT”, a presentation delivered during the Opportunities in Superyachts Conference, 2nd Annual Event, Westin Dragonara Resort, Malta, 3rd April 2014
‘Chartering in Italy, France and Malta’, European Committee for Professional Yachting (ECPY) and the Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA), Nice, September 2013
“Overview of Yacht Charter in the Mediterranean”, “Malta, A better destination for Superyachts Industry Seminar”, Malta, September 2013
“Are clients choosing flags for tax reasons or for the service they provide?”, The Future of Superyachts, Palma de Mallorca 2013
“Key Factors in the Choice of the Appropriate Jurisdiction for Registering a SuperYacht”, Palma de Mallorca, June 2010.
Involvements and Memberships
Council and Economic Group Executive Board Member, Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry (2019 – to date)
Chairman, Executive Committee of the Yachting Trade Section, Chamber of Commerce (2015 – to date)
Committee Member, Malta Maritime Law Association (2008 – to date)
Board member of the yachting subcommittee within the MMLA (2009 – to date)
Council Secretary, Superyacht Industry Network Malta (SYINM) (2016 – 2018)
Committee Member, Superyacht Industry Network Malta (SYINM) (2016 – 2018)
Board member, Malta Marittima (2016 – 2017)
Lecturer on Yachting Law – Elsa Summer Law School (2015-to date)
Lecturer on shipping law topics at the Maritime Institute within the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology
Member of Malta Chamber of Advocates
Member of International Bar Association
Chambers Europe 2020:
One client attests that she is “very deadline-oriented – if I send an email, I immediately get an email back with a full explanation.”
Chambers HNWI 2019:
Head of the firm’s yachting department Alison Vassallo has recognised experience handling a broad range of yachting transactions and disputes. She advises owners and financiers on sale and purchase, chartering, registration, financing and tax. Peers say she is “very pleasant, competent and responsive,” adding: “She is very helpful with new yacht providers, she is very proactive.”
Chambers Europe 2019:
Head of yachting Alison Vassallo is praised by clients for being “friendly, clever and efficient.” Her practice includes assisting clients with the sale and acquisition of yachts, as well as advising on mortgage, registration and tax implications. In addition to yachting, Vassallo also acts on marine litigation files.
Chambers HNWI 2018:
Alison Vassallo heads the firm’s yachting department as well as working within the marine litigation team. Vassallo has experience working with owners and financiers on the acquisition and sale of yachts. She also advises clients on registration, financing, chartering, crewing and tax. Peers praise her, saying: “She is very knowledgeable but also very business-oriented, and pleasant to work with. She makes it look easy and finds solutions rather than problems.” One lawyer describes her as “personable” and “efficient,” adding: “She understands straight away what we are trying to achieve and puts it into action.”
Chambers Europe 2018:
Alison Vassallo is endorsed by clients and peers for her skills in dealing with yachting and shipping matters. “She is very experienced and reliable,” sources report, adding: “On top of that, she has a very pleasant personality.”
Chambers HNWI 2017:
Alison Vassallo is well known in the yachting industry for her legal expertise, particularly on Maltese taxation. “She’s super – she’s up there with the best of them,” says one interviewee. “She’s excellent to deal with, very helpful and very knowledgeable.” Sources also highlight her responsiveness and her high profile in the market, which one market insider says helps to speed up transactions. “She pays attention to our clients’ issues and we’ve been happy with her advice,” summarises a fellow yacht lawyer.
Chambers Europe 2017:
Alison Vassallo is highlighted by interviewees as “strong in yachting.” Her practice also covers marine litigation.
Chambers Europe 2016:
Alison Vassallo focuses on marine litigation and yachting cases.
Legal 500 2016:
Alison Vassallo is a key contact in a very large team which is regularly instructed by international firms.
A creditor recently obtained a Section 37 order on a provisional basis from the Maltese courts as security for a claim arising from a dispute under a charterparty. The purpose of the order was to prohibit the sale, transfer or deregistration of the vessel while the merits of the case were being determined. While the law allows owners to opt to deposit security, the legislature has catered for these instances to ensure that creditors' rights are not prejudiced.
A Section 37 injunction allows creditors, in circumstances which give rise to a maritime claim attracting the jurisdiction of the Maltese courts in rem, to obtain a court order which prohibits the vessel from being sold or entering any further mortgages until the merits of the case have been decided in the appropriate jurisdiction. This has proven to be a useful and effective tool for protecting maritime claims.
Malta has always been at the forefront of offering solid, reliable solutions to yacht owners depending on their individual requirements and the intended use of their yacht. The first half of 2020 has seen the introduction of updated rules affecting operating leases and streamlined importation procedures, offering owners the possibility of availing themselves of a number of solutions and procedures catering to their individual requirements.
At the start of 2017 Transport Malta, the authority responsible for the administration of the Malta flag, introduced new guidelines that allow more than 12 persons on board privately registered yachts. The new guidelines stem both from a recognition that there is a gap in the superyacht market and the administration's continued effort to remain at the forefront as a leading yachting flag.
The third annual Opportunities in Superyachts Conference was recently held in Malta. Over the past eight years Malta has enjoyed success within the superyacht sector, steadily increasing the size of its registered fleet and the number of yachts which benefit from the solutions offered by the jurisdiction. As such, the conference largely focused on what Malta offers owners and operators of private and commercial yachts.
Following similar announcements recently made by France and Italy, the Maltese authorities published the Guidelines for the Value Added Tax Treatment of Short-Term Yacht Chartering. The guidelines address situations in which a short-term charter of a yacht with a crew (or on a bareboat charter basis) is entered into between the owner or operator and the charterer for a consideration.
Following the violence in Libya over the past weeks, numerous shipping companies have been operating round trip charter evacuations between Libya and Malta, mainly on the request of governments in Europe, Latin America and the Far East. While tragic in its humanitarian implications, such a crisis presents those with the requisite resources and expertise with a commercial reality that warrants attention.
Recent uncertain economic times, together with an increasingly safety and security-sensitive environment, have instilled in owners a greater awareness of and sensitivity to the advantages that may be offered by a particular flag when choosing a jurisdiction for registering their superyacht. This update looks at the key factors that are playing a determinative role in leading owners to opt for the Maltese flag.
EU Directive 2008/8/EC, amending EU Directive 2006/112/EC as regards the place of supply of services, introduced new rules on the place of supply of means of transport. Following timely intervention by Malta during the negotiations and drafting of this amending directive, a provision has been introduced specifically targeting the place of hiring of a pleasure boat to a non-taxable person.