MCA fines Melita following a case of non-compliance with its termination procedure

Effective competition in the communication markets benefits consumers in terms of increased choice, advantageous prices, appropriate quality and innovation. Nonetheless, for competition to be able to fully deliver effective outcomes, consumers need to be able to switch between service providers without undue effort, disruption and anxiety.  In parallel, consumers need to be empowered with the necessary information to engage effectively with the competitive process.  This requires that consumers are aware of the choices available to them, prices, advantages and disadvantages of new services and technologies.
Undoubtedly, contractual issues are viewed as being the biggest obstacle to switch from one service provider to another.  In particular, subscribers must be aware of the following two conditions that could be applicable:

1. Early termination fees (these are applicable when a consumer subscribes to a definite package and decides to terminate the package prior to its expiry); and

2. The requirement to inform service providers 30 days in advance of the intention to terminate a service.

Notwithstanding the above, following the transposition of the EU Framework into Maltese law in 2011, a number of legal provisions have been introduced to safeguard the consumers’ interests when switching.  For example, early termination fees, nowadays cannot be applied when contracts are automatically renewed for a further period.  In addition, service providers are required to ensure that the termination procedure to be followed by subscribers when terminating a service is simple and efficient.

In this respect, in the past years, following claims received by the MCA, the Authority made a number of proposals intended to address shortcomings and render the procedures adopted by some service providers more transparent and efficient.

The MCA is also responsible to ensure that service providers follow their own termination procedures when subscribers request the termination of a service/s.  The MCA is also empowered to take regulatory action when service providers do not comply with such procedures.  As a case in point, recently, the MCA found Melita to have acted in breach of the law when it did not action a subscriber’s request to terminate a service in line with its own procedure.  As a result, the MCA imposed an administrative fine and warned Melita that it would be closely monitoring the situation to ensure that such procedures are being adhered to.

In the meantime, the MCA encourages members of the public to contact the Authority in the event that they encounter any difficulties with terminating their services.  For more information on switching service providers and number portability, visit MCA’s FAQs at

Regulatory Type: 
Electronic Communications

MCA Reference: 
MCA-LEG/mb/14-1903 (LEG 417)