The reform of the Italian legal system's rules related to private international law, i.e., to conflicts of laws and jurisdiction, has entered into force on 01/09/95. The aim of the law (Law No. 218/95) is to conform to, and possibly to harmonise our legal system with the rules introduced by the main international conventions which have entered into force in recent years (with particular reference to the Brussels Convention of 1968 on the recognition and enforcement of civil and commercial judgements, and to the Convention of Rome of 1980 on the applicable law of contracts).

Such reform involves, of course, the almost total substitution of the rules contained in Arts. 17-31 of the Preliminary Dispositions of the Italian Civil Code, as well as of various provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure (in particular, Arts. 2 and 4 on international jurisdiction).

As far as procedural issues are concerned, the law provides that the power to derogate from the Italian jurisdiction in favour of a foreign court be extended even to cases where a relationship between Italian citizens is concerned. With regard to legal relationships which are characterised by foreign elements, the traditional importance assumed by the criterion of nationality widely adopted by Italian law (in contrast to the law of numerous foreign States, this seeming to be the typical inheritance of a country with a high level of emigration, as has been true of Italy for decades) is now limited. Similarly, following various decisions by the Italian Constitutional Court, new criteria have been introduced to guarantee the equality of the sexes within the context of marital relations, attributing relevance to the law of the State in which marital life is predominantly lived instead of that of the husband.

Some perplexity has arisen from the law, however, in relation to the decision to adopt, even if only in some limited cases, the so-called "principle of referral" (on the basis of which, reference to the law of a State must be extended even to the rules of private international law of that legal system), which is often held to be a potential source of paradoxes and labyrinths, as for example in the case of the conflict of laws rules of two legal systems referring one to the other ad infinitum.

The entry into force of the provisions of the law regarding the recognition and enforcement in Italy of foreign judgements has been postponed until 01/01/96.

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