Recognition of foreign judgment in Italy
The cases of exequatur and executions in Italy of foreign legal decision
Acknowledgement in Italy of civil and commercial sentences issued abroad
The legal sources on recognition in Italy of foreign judgments:
a) the Regulation (EU) no. 1215/2012 (called Bruxelles I bis) states that a sentence issued by a court in one EU member state must be recognized in the other member states without the need for any special procedure; according to the principle of priority of EU law over the national law of each EU member state, this Regulation replaces Law no. 218/1995 for provisions in contrast with the Regulation.
b) the Law no. 218/1995 concerns the Private International Law, it states the recognition in Italy of the sentences and of other judicial decisions issued by a court abroad, provided that certain conditions are met (see below); so that:
- for judgements issued by a court of a country which has signed a convention with Italy for mutual acknowledgement of legal decisions it is possible to start soon execution in Italy;
- for judgements issued by court of countries which have not signed a convention with Italy for mutual acknowledgement of legal decisions, it is necessary to start a claim called “exequatur” or delibazione”.
The Articles from 64 to 71 of Law no. 218 govern the effectiveness in Italy of foreign judgments and legal acts; the Article 64, relating to the recognition of foreign judgments, states that the foreign sentence is recognized in Italy without the need for recourse to any procedure when:
1) the judge who pronounced it could do that in accordance with the principles of jurisdiction pertaining to Italian law;
2) the starting act of the judgment was notified to the defendant in accordance with the provisions of the law of the place where the trial took place and the essential rights of the defendant were not violated;
3) the parties have appeared to court according to the law of the place where the trial took place or the non-appearance was declared in accordance with that law;
4) the foreign sentence has become final according to the law of the place where it was issued;
6) the foreign sentence is not contrary to another sentence issued by an Italian court that has become final;
7) a trial is not pending before an Italian judge for the same object and between the same parties, which started before the foreign trial;
8) it doesn’t produce effects contrary to public order provisions in Italy.
Pursuant to articles 67 and 68 of Law no. 218/1995, in cases of contestation of the recognition in Italy of:
- sentence issued abroad;
- forced execution decision issued abroad;
anyone interested can ask the court in Italy to ascertain the recognition requirements.
The Article. 69 of Law no. 218/1995 provides that the judgments and orders issued by foreign courts concerning witness examinations, technical assessments, oaths, interrogations or other means of proof to be taken in Italy are enforced by decree of the court of appeal of the place (in Italy) where such acts are to be carried out.
If the request of proof in Italy is proposed by the interested party, the application is proposed to the court by claim, which must be accompanied by an authentic copy of the sentence or other legal act that ordered the requested proof. If the proof in Italy is requested by the foreign court, the request must be sent by diplomatic channel; the service required through diplomatic channels is carried out by the public prosecutor through a bailiff.
The taking of means of proof or the performance of other investigative acts not provided for by the Italian legal system may be arranged provided that they do not conflict with the principles of the Italian legal system.
The hiring or completion of means of proof is governed by Italian law, anyway, according to the Article 69 Law no. 218/1995, the means of proofs requested by the foreign judicial authority are applied as they comply with Italian law system.
The service of documents in Italy coming from a foreign state is authorized by the public prosecutor (pubblico ministero) of the court where the service is to be carried out; it is done in accordance with the procedures provided for by Italian law; however, the methods of notification required by the foreign court are applied also in Italy if they comply with the principles of the Italian law system.
In any case, the sentence or other legal deed can be delivered, by the person who proceeds with the notification, to the recipient who accepts it voluntarily.
The Regulation (EU) no. 1215/2012 (called Bruxelles I bis) applies in civil and commercial matter: it is not applicable to family law, bankruptcies, inheritance issues and other specific matters listed in the regulation, such as social security and arbitration.
Now, a decision made in one EU country will be recognized in the other EU countries without the need for any specific procedure. If it is recognized as an executive in the country of origin, it will be executive in other EU countries without requiring a declaration of enforceability.
The party against whom enforcement is sought must be informed of this by means of a "certificate concerning a decision in civil and commercial matters" which is drawn up at the request of one of the interested parties, according to the model shown in the EU Regulation Bruxelles I bis; the certificate must be accompanied by the judgment, if it has not already been notified. Finally, the interested party must be notified within a reasonable period prior to the execution of the decision.
According to the Regulation, the judgement issued in a EU member state is enforceable in other EU member state (Italy) without requiring a declaration of enforceability, so that it also implies the authorization to proceed to precautionary measures provided for by the law of the requested member state (Italy).
A defendant not domiciled in an EU country (whose permanent residence is not located in an EU country), must be subject to the national jurisdictional rules in force in the territory of the court where he started the claim.
Some jurisdiction rules apply independently of the defendant's domicile, in the following cases:
- consumers and employees disputes;
- real estate;
- common choice of the parties.