A NEWSLETTER prepared by Graham & James LLP, Milan Office

December, 1999

ELECTRONIC IDENTITY CARD. A new decree enacted by the President of the Council of Ministries sets forth regulatory norms concerning identity cards in electronic format. The decree also provides that electronic identity cards may contain information required for the issuing of a digital signature, as well as all the necessary elements to generate a biometric key (i.e. an electronic code based on a person’s physical features for the purpose of identifying the person for safety reasons). The card may also be used by citizens to make payments to public administration bodies. The decree implements Article 2 paragraph 10 of Law no. 127/1997 on the simplification of administrative activities.

Source: Decree by the President of the Council of Ministries no. 437 enacted on October 22, 1999 and published in the Official Gazette no. 277 of November 25, 1999.

UMTS MOBILE TELEPHONY LICENSES. On December 22, 1999 the Council of the Italian Communications Authority finally adopted the Regulation to grant five individul licenses for UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System) mobile communications. UMTS technology is considered the most advanced mobile telephony standard and will grant very efficient access to Internet, Intranet, and other services based on Internet Protocol. Also worthy of mention is the Communications Authority Resolution n. 217/99 of September 22, 1999, which amends the Ministry Decree of November 25, 1997 on the proceedings to grant licenses for personal and mobile telephony. In particular, the Resolution provides that the provision on the so-called "performance bond" that the competitor had to provide to support the development of the technological research, is abolished.

Source: The notice on the adoption of the UMTS Regulation can be found at: http://www.agcom.it and will be soon published (beginning of January 2000) both in the Bulletin of the Communication Authority (also available in the above mentioned Internet site) and in the Official Gazette.

The Ministry Decree of November 25, 1997 is published in the Official Gazette no. 283 of December 4, 1997. The Communications Authority Resolution no. 217/99 is published in the Official Gazette no. 247 of October 20, 1999 and at http://www.agcom.it.

NEW RULES ON PROFESSIONAL ADVERTISING. The National Forensic Council thoroughly amended Article 17 of the Forensic Deontological Code, that so far prohibited any form of professional advertising. According to the new rules:

- a lawyer is allowed to provide information concerning his or her professional activity correctly and truthfully, respecting the dignity of the profession and privacy and secrecy obligations;

  • such information can be provided through brochures, letterhead, professional and telephonic directories, registers, computer networks, both nationally and internationally;
  • indication, to the general public, of the areas of specialisation is also allowed.

Though still leaving room for interpretation, the new rules represent a significant step forward in the process of renewal of the Italian legal profession.

Source: Resolution of the National Forensic Council dated 16 October 1999, published in Foro Italiano, 1999, V, at 311.

Graham & James LLP is a leading full-service international law firm offering all principal corporate, financial, litigation and intellectual property practice capabilities. The firm and its affiliates comprise over 1,200 attorneys in 30 offices worldwide.