Monday 23 August 2021

The Chief Herald speaks


In a post today on the International Society of Commoners Heraldry forum (Face book) Laird Sky kindly lets us know that he has contacted Dr Gauci to ask for his opinion on events thus far.

I was amused to see the amount of “spin” so I have taken the liberty to dissect it and add my own take to his comments [in parenthesis].

“I was curious as to Dr Charles Gaucci's [sic] opinion on this matter so I emailed him last night. What follows are his personal insights on the new Act-


1. PM & Cabinet appointed me [This appointment of course had no effect as it was ultra vires however, I have no doubt that until I raised my concerns with him soon after (a concern which was dismissed by him and referred to Heritage Malta's legal counsel to “see me off”) I am content to believe that he mistakenly believed that he had some form of authority to act however, I contacted him within weeks and informed him of the fact that the Act providing powers to Heritage Malta did not allow for ad hoc appointments and the Minister needed to table a paper before Parliament to effect any changes to the Act (something which, over a year later they have now done but we still, as yet await powers to be granted).]

2. I wanted to see whether the idea would take off before suggesting a change in the law [hmm. This is almost risible, Right from the beginning, Dr. Gauci has maintained that he had the authority to act as Chief Herald and shortly after my intervention his web pages, on the Heraldry Malta website appeared with a lame and wholly misleading attempt to justify the existence of the office in law. Later, after I had contacted the office of the Ombudsman, I was asked to comment on the assertions on that website and provided a forensic criticism which proved that there was no basis in the Cultural Heritage Act for such an ad hoc appointment by the Prime Minister or Cabinet.]

3. It was a resounding success [I am sure it was however, it had no basis in law and yet the so called Chief Herald continued to mislead his clients that his office was lawful and that he had lawful authority to make grants and registrations. The success was based upon a falsehood.]

4. I suggested a change in the law. This was agreed by government. The Cultural Heritage Act was specifically changed. [It was actually I who right from the beginning suggested to Dr. Gauci and his boss, the Chief Executive of Heritage Malta, that his appointment was ultra vires and that he needed to ensure that the Minister for Culture tabled a paper before Parliament to ensure that proper legislation was in place. I kept asking him to justify his assertions that his office was lawful and asked if he could point me to the legislation (knowing that there wasn’t any): My approach to the Chief Herald was not appreciated and he put the phone down on me so I wrote to his boss pointing out the law as it stood and stating that proper legislation needed to be put in place. So, he can't really state with any truth that it was he who initiated a change in the law; he would have been happy if no one had noticed and he was allowed to "carry on granting".

5. The new law created my Office [Agreed, the new law, passed in July 2021 allowed Heritage Malta to create the Office of Chief Herald, however, as noted by the Ombudsman there is as yet no provision for powers ("This Office observes that the proposed Bill does not include an amendment to specifically regulate heraldry, including the creation of new arms"). And yet, the Chief Herald still writes to those who enquire informing them that he has full powers to grant and register arms!]

6. Secondary legislation has been drafted which details ALL my "powers" and which merges the existing office with the "new" office and which recognises all creations/legislations to date. [If this is true, and I can only hope that it is, then this is indeed good news]

The secondary legislation should be law in a very short time, once it is translated into Maltese!

In any democracy which has an Ombudsman, the latter suggests but does not legislate. This is the job of the government. He made his suggestions and they were duly noted. They have all been dealt with in the secondary legislation which, incidentally was being drafted long before the Ombudsman reported. [The legislation was of course being drafted long before the Ombudsman made his suggestion however, it is disingenuous to lend the impression that this drafting was not as a result of the Chief Herald and the Minister being aware that they were under investigation by the Ombudsman and having been provided with a copy of my forensic examination of their false claims. Legislation was begun because they became aware that they were being investigated by the Ombudsman.]

I really have not the slightest interest in 'others' opinions. [This is par for the course for someone who has throughout misled all who would listen into believing that firstly his office existed when he knew that in law it didn’t and secondly continued throughout to maintain that he had lawful authority when he didn’t - as yet, he still doesn't.] 

Saturday 21 August 2021

The Herald without portfolio.

    The Personal arms of the Chief Herald of Malta with self granted noble additaments.

Further to my post yesterday, having had a long correspondence on messenger with Heraldry Society member Bernard Juby, Bernard has posted on Face Book that he has written to the Chief Herald of Malta. In our conversation yesterday Bernard stated that he had written "asking whether he is salaried or draws income from Grant, Registrations, etc  and whether his ofice [sic] is meant to be self-funding and whther [sic] any surplus fees go to Heritage Malta or to the Government?

Bernard also stated that he had "also told him that since he now holds a Governmentally approved Office ans[sic] since Malta abolished nobility some decades ago it is unwise - at the very least - to use any reference to nobility in any Letters Patent that he may issue."

Bernard has helpfully posted the response:

"Parliament has certainly formally ratified my position.  Secondary legislation has been drafted which merges my initial appointment by the PM with that created by parliament as well as detailing all my 'powers', including the granting of Arms to foreigners.   

The finances are also being dealt with by the Ministry in conjunction with the Treasury.  I will be salaried and not dependant on any income derived from grants/registrations.  At the moment I receive a commission, which, at my insistence, is paid directly to the association for Abandoned Animals in Malta.  The same goes for any fees I am paid for undertaking research for third parties. 

The matter of titles of nobility is specifically dealt with in the secondary legislation to the complete satisfaction of the Ministry.  We will be keeping  an armorial register which we may publish on line and perhaps in hard copy and I will give regular updates in our newsletter.  Also all Arms granted/registered will be regularly published in the Malta Government Gazette.   

The Government of Malta is behind the Office of the Chief Herald of Arms 100%."

I am grateful to Bernard, that sounds promising however, it does not excuse his behaviour. In his replies to potential clients, he is presently not telling everyone that secondary legislation is in progress and all will be well if they just hang on, he is actually behaving as though (and telling everyone that) legislation is already in place. It is a despicable deception. Here we now have it from the horses mouth that he has as yet no lawful authority to grant arms. I don't doubt that the Government is behind his office 100% but his actions are nevertheless, at this point in time unlawful. 

I do wish that from the outset he had done the gentlemanly thing and stepped down until legislation is actually in place instead of spending nearly two years trying to convince anyone who would listen that he was legitimate and already had the authority to act as a herald. Pity it was such a poor start. One thing is for sure, it can only get better.

To summarise, although we are now given the impression that legislation is on the way, it remains, as yet, that any acts by the Chief herald of Malta are still ultra vires; he is a Herald without portfolio. Anyone considering a grant of arms from Malta would be wise to wait until his acts have the force of law.

Friday 20 August 2021

Is the Chief Herald of Malta wilfully misleading clients or just not understanding the law?

Well, it has happened; Bill No. 229 - Cultural Heritage (Amendment) Bill has now passed into law and become an Act of Parliament. It is now ACT No. XLI of 2021, AN ACT enacted by the Parliament of Malta. AN ACT to amend the Cultural Heritage Act, Cap. 445. 

The Office of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta is now lawfully in existence. HOWEVER, sadly the Act does not provide any powers for the new Chief Herald at all and the expected 2nd and 3rd readings did not apparently, contrary to the opinions of some, provide any powers allowing for any granting of arms and as a consequence any business transacted by the Chief Herald in regard to the granting and recording of new or foreign arms remains ultra vires - of no lawful foundation and therefore null and void. Useless. All of which is very sad as it has been a missed opportunity. 

Despite the fact that there is absolutely no mention in the Act of anything but the creation of an empty office, I am beginning to wonder if the Chief Herald of Malta is still wilfully misleading potential clients or if he really doesn't understand what is going on. I believe that he is a reasonably intelligent man but today it has come to my attention that he has written to someone asking about a grant in the following terms:  

“My Office, which previously had the protection of the Prime Minister of Malta now also has the protection of Parliament which has confirmed its powers in law.  Thus, any Arms granted are fully recognised by the State of Malta and will be entered, for all time, into the Armorial Register of Malta.” 

Whilst I am please to say that, after my extensive efforts to bring the fact that his office didn't even exist on a lawful basis, there is, thanks to the recent passing of the new  - Cultural Heritage (Amendment) Act, now a lawful office of Chief Herald of Arms of Malta. However, the Act, regrettably, still did not provide for any powers or functions of this office (I have made a thorough search of the Parliament website and there isn't even any reference to heraldry of herald in "Papers Laid" before Parliament).

So, let us dissect the latest communication from the man whose Office now exists in law but has, still, absolutely no powers in law. 

The Chief Herald would have us believe that his Office "previously had the protection of the Prime Minister of Malta" This is a disingenuous statement. He may well be under the impression that the Prime Minister and Cabinet lent their approval to his Office however, I have proved beyond a doubt that the procedures, whatever they may have been, undertaken by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet were incorrect and had no basis in law so the Office he thought had been created did not actually exist and, in fact and in law, did not exist until, through my intervention, the Ombudsman advised that proper legislation must be sought. This legislation has recently been passed but it only created the Office. In his latest communication the Chief Herald states that his Office "now also has the protection of Parliament which has confirmed its powers in law ". I should like to know where and when since, according to the Act and everything I can find on the Parliamentary website, there has yet to be anything other than the mere creation of an empty shell of an office with absolutely no powers.

If anyone can point me to where I can find these alleged powers I would be very grateful. The details of the Act in full can be found here:

College of Arms Newsletter April 2024

 The latest College of Arms Newsletter for April 2024 is now online .

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