Draft Law 1082, which was recently approved in the Senate, will become law in the next few weeks. Among other things, the legislation modifies different aspects of the Italian civil procedure and empowers the government to take measures in order to simplify and streamline civil proceedings

There are notable new rules on:

  • mediation;
  • the winner's costs where a reasonable settlement offer was previously made; and
  • the introduction of a summary proceeding which could reduce the average duration of proceedings in Italy.

In light of the above, this newsletter is divided into two parts. The first describes the most important amendments to the Italian Civil Procedure Law, while the second concerns the framework of the implementing legislation to be issued by the government within the next 24 months.

1. Draft Law 1082

a. Road accidents: The labour proceedings will no longer apply to disputes involving road accidents (abrogation of Article 3, Law 102/2006).

b. Ordinary summary process: A new summary proceeding has been introduced for disputes that fall under the jurisdiction of a single judge. The plaintiff can seek to avail of this option in the course of an ordinary summary proceeding. In the absence of further classification, where the plaintiff opts for this summary process the defendant is obliged to participate. However, the judge can refuse the request if he or she considers that a full proceeding is required. If the judge approves the request for a summary proceeding, he or she must determine the essential requirements of the inquiry. Other than this, it is unclear how the proceeding will run. The rule does not explain what simplifications this new summary proceeding will offer.

c. Undisputed facts: The decision may based on undisputed facts. Lawyers must pay special heed to this new feature, as a dispute may now be decided on facts which have not been debated.

d. Written deposition: Written depositions have been introduced to civil trials. An authenticated signature is required. In any event, the judge has discretion to rule that an oral deposition is necessary, in which case he or she will exclude the written deposition. This is one of the most innovative changes contained in the draft law.

e. Unfounded process: The court may order the losing party to pay the winning party a sum determined in a equitable way. The court can decide on this ex officio.

f. Winner's costs: If the amount awarded by the court does not exceed what was previously offered in a reasonable and timely settlement proposal, the winning party may be ordered to pay the costs of victory.

g. Power of attorney and notification with electronic instruments: A bailiff can provide notification through electronic media and certified email. Power of attorney may also be provided through an electronic document.

h. Justice of the peace: The act has extended the jurisdiction of the justice of peace based on the value of the dispute. The justice of the peace has jurisdiction over disputes involving sums of up to €5,000.

2. Implementing legislation

The draft law requires the government to enact implementing legislation in relation to the simplification and streamlining of civil proceedings, and to mediation in ordinary proceedings. First, the government must harmonise the ordinary process with the different proceedings available under other laws. Only a few special proceedings, such as bankruptcy and family proceedings, are excluded from the simplification process. The second piece of implementing legislation concerns mediation in civil and commercial disputes. Among other principles to be introduced, lawyers will be obliged to suggest that their clients attempt mediation before proceedings are commenced.

3. Conclusions

Draft Law 1082 will introduce several amendments to the Italian civil procedure. It is possible that the draft law may be further modified before it becomes law. The most important changes will depend on the implementing legislation to follow; the government has two years in which to enact this legislation. Thus, only time will tell how proceedings will be streamlined and simplified in practice.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.