- Posted by Massimo Mellaro
What are the steps involved in Italian litigation?
Italian civil procedural rules set out how litigation works throughout the nation; these rules are established in a code and all parties have to comply with the many deadlines and formalities contemplated therein.
A civil litigation case before an Italian Civil Court can be divided into four phases lasting over a period of three/four years or more, depending on each Court’s backlog.
The first phase is the most critical as it involves planning the whole defensive strategy. The first step is drafting the writ of summons if you are the claimant or replying to the writ, in the event that you are the defendant. This initial statement is very time consuming in both cases, as it is necessary to foresee all possible requests that must be made to the judge. Failure to do so means losing the possibility of asking the judge to hear specific claims. After the parties have exchanged their first defensive statements, one or two hearings will be held; during these hearings the parties will highlight the basis of their claim/s and ask the judge to file evidence.
The second litigation phase is related to the collection of evidence. This phase involves three statements about evidence/proof aspects, the filing of documents and specific requests to the judge to prove the party’s defensive strategy, as well as at least two hearings during the same phase to examine some evidence aspects.
Once the parties have filed all the documents/proof/evidence they deem necessary to prove their defence, in the next hearings they are entitled to ask the judge to file their final conclusions on the matter. During this third phase, if the judge agrees and does not decide that more proof needs to be collected, she/he will adjourn the case and grant the parties further terms in which to file the two final statements.
During the fourth litigation phase, the parties file two final statements and two more hearings take place, during which the parties go through their claims, their evidence and their conclusions.
The judge will then withhold all the file and decide on the litigation case, passing the final sentence at this level.
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