Covid-19 emergency – Italy measures concerning civil disputes

To contain the spread of the Covid-19 contagion the Italian Government enacted several law decrees to implement, among others,emergency measures in the sector of civil, criminal, administrative and tax justice.

In the context of civil justice, the CuraItalia Decree (Law Decree no. 18, of 17th March 2020), as further amended by Law Decree no. 23, of 8th April 2020 (Article 36), sets forth two types of measures (Article 83, CuraItalia Decree):

  • Urgent Measures, enforceable in the period between 9 March 2020 and 11 May 2020;
  • Organizational Measures, to be adopted and enforced in the period between 12 May 2020 and 30 June 2020.

Urgent measures

Enforcement period: 9 March 2020 – 11 May 2020

  • Automatic rescheduling of all civil Court hearings scheduled in the enforcement period to a date after 11 May 2020 by operation of law;
  • stay of all procedural deadlines in all civil proceedings; and
  • stay of all procedural deadlines in mediation proceedings and in assisted negotiation procedures.

The aforementioned Urgent Measures, shall not apply, inter alia, to the below Excluded Proceedings which, therefore, shall not be rescheduled or stayed:

  • interim proceedings regarding fundamental human rights;
  • proceedings for the suspension of the provisional enforceability of judgments;
  • any proceedings where delay could cause a serious detriment to the parties.

The urgent handling of proceedings under letter c) above shall be sought through an ad hoc application to the President of the Court or to the Judge in charge of the case.

In all Excluded Proceedings hearings other than those pertaining to the evidentiary gathering phase (witnesses and/or Court appointed experts attendance) can be held via videoconference or in writing (e.g. through exchange of written briefs only).

Organizational measures

Enforcement period: 12 may 2020 – 30 june 2020

Courts’ Presidents are entrusted with the powers to adopt certain extraordinary Organizational Measures, among which:

  • limitation of public access to Courts’ buildings;
  • reduction of Courts’ offices working hours and services;
  • derogation from public hearings;
  • rescheduling of civil Court hearings to a date later than 30 June 2020, if necessary to avoid several adjournments;
  • introduction of “videoconference hearings” for hearings to be attended solely by counsel and parties, and “written hearings” (through exchange of written briefs only) for hearings to be attended only by counsel. Videoconference and written hearings are, therefore, not available for evidence gathering hearings, e.g. hearings for interview, oath or attendance of witnesses and/or Court appointed experts.

Organizational Measures referred to in points (i) and (v) above, may also be adopted in relation to Excluded Proceedings during the period of enforcement of the Urgent Measures (9 March 2020 – 11 May 2020); a number of Courts (e.g. Rome, Milan, Turin) have already implemented videoconference and written hearings modalities for the urgent matters.

In consideration of the ongoing ever-changing evolution of the Covid-19 emergency, it can be anticipated that further developments and amendments could occur to the Urgent Measures and to the Organizational Measures. Updates will be periodically provided.