On 2 August 2022, the (outgoing) Government submitted to Parliament the draft legislative decree that should implement the reform of the civil process in accordance with the Enabling Law No. 206/2021.
As known, the Enabling Law came into force on 24 December 2021 and the next Government must implement it within the year, i.e. by 24 December 2022.
The next elections will be held on 25 September 2022 and it is difficult to make predictions.
In any case, we wonder whether – regardless of the political orientation – the new Government will be able to complete the reform work and whether, therefore, among the Christmas presents, instead of the usual book, we will unwrap a new updated edition of the Code of Civil Procedure.
There has been no shortage of criticism of the Enabling Law, nor is there likely to be any shortage of criticism of the implementing legislative decree, the scheme of which – already forwarded to Parliament – is expected to receive the opinion of the House and Senate Committees by 2 October 2022, failing which the legislative decree may still be issued.
While waiting for the unpredictable political developments, let us recall that the legislative decree scheme provides for numerous and substantial amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure, including (to name a few):
– the express inclusion of the lack of power of attorney to the attorney among the cases subject to the regularization pursuant to Article 182 of the Code of Civil Procedure;
– the extension to 120 days of the minimum time limit to appear as provided for by art. 163 bis of the Code of Civil Procedure, if the place of notification is in Italy, and the extension of the backward time limit for the defendant's appearance, provided for by art. 166 of the Code of Civil Procedure, from 20 to 70 days before the hearing;
– the obligation to indicate in the summons, if the claim is subject to conditions of admissibility, that the plaintiff has fulfilled obligations) required to overcome it;
– the reintroduction of the obligation for the parties to appear in person at the first appearance hearing, their questioning and an attempt at conciliation by the judge;
– the introduction of the following time limits, under penalty of forfeiture, for the filing of supplementary pleadings prior to the hearing, and equal to:
1) at least forty days before the hearing to propose the claims and exceptions that are the consequence of the counterclaim or the exceptions proposed by the defendant or the third party, as well as to specify or modify the claims, exceptions and conclusions already proposed. In the same pleading the plaintiff may request to summon a third party if the need has arisen as a result of the defendant's defence;
2) at least 20 days before the hearing, to reply to the new or amended claims and objections made by the other parties, to propose the objections that are the consequence of the new claims made by them in the pleading referred to in paragraph 1), and to indicate the means of proof and produce the documents;
3) at least 10 days before the hearing, to reply to the new objections and indicate the evidence to the contrary;
– the introduction of the following time-limits to be counted backwards from the hearing at which the case will be retained for decision:
1) a time limit not exceeding sixty days (before the hearing) for the filing of written notes containing only the specification of the conclusions;
2) a time limit not exceeding 30 days (before the hearing) for the filing of closing arguments;
3) a time limit of no more than 15 days (prior to the hearing) for filing replies.
Those just mentioned represent a drop in the ocean in terms of the amendments that could be introduced to the Code of Civil Procedure also with reference to proceedings before the Giudici di Pace, appeals (and, in particular, to proceedings before the Supreme Court), enforcement proceedings and implementing provisions.
Therefore, while we wait for the formation of a new Government, it is advisable to immediately start getting acquainted with the new terms of the reform which, pursuant to Article 35 of the Legislative Decree Scheme, could come into force (with some exceptions) as from 30 June 2023.
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.