Article 234 of the Treaty establishing the European Community states that the Court of Justice of the European Communities shall have jurisdiction to give preliminary rulings concerning the interpretation of the Treaty, the validity and interpretation of acts of the institutions of the Community and of the ECB and the interpretation of the statutes of bodies established by and act of the European Council. Where such a question is raised before any court or tribunal of a Member State, the court or tribunal may, if it considers that a decision in the question is necessary to enable it to give judgement, request the Court of Justice to give a ruling thereon. Where any such question is raised in a case pending before a court or tribunal of a Member State against whose decisions there is no judicial remedy under national law, the Court or tribunal shall bring the matter before the Court of Justice.
Legal Notice 279 of 2008 states that it shall be the responsibility of the court, not the parties to settle the terms of the reference to the Court of Justice of the European Communities. The reference shall identify the question to which the Maltese court seeks an answer. The referring court shall in a single document scheduled to the order identify the parties and summarise the nature and history of the proceedings, summarise the salient facts, indicating whether these are proved, admitted or assumed, make reference to the rules of national law (substantive and procedural) relevant to the dispute, summarise the contentions of the parties as far as relevant, explain why a ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Communities is sought, identifying the provisions of Community law whose effect is in issue and formulate without avoidable complexity the questions to which an answer is requested.