Recovering a credit from a foreign debtor might sometimes entail enforcing a judgment in another jurisdiction. Indeed, this is sometimes necessary to achieve full repayment when the debtor’s assets are located in a different jurisdiction from the one in which it was delivered.
This Quickguide provides an overview on the recognition and enforcement of non-EU judgments in civil and commercial matters in Italy and will help you understand:
The legal framework for the recognition and enforcement of non-EU judgments in Italy
The legal framework governing the recognition and enforcement of non-EU judgments in Italy can be found in the Italian International Private Law (Law n. 218/95). It specifies what type of decisions can be recognised and outlines the requirements a foreign judgment must meet for it to be recognised in Italy.
Additionally, if the creditor seeks to obtain recognition of enforceability of a non-EU judgment in Italy, or the recognition of the non-EU judgment is challenged by the debtor, the court proceeding will be governed by the Italian Civil Procedure Code.
What conditions must foreign judgments satisfy
The Italian International Private Law establishes the principle that a foreign judgment will be automatically recognised in Italy provided it complies with certain requirements. This allows a creditor to obtain recognition of a non-EU judgment in Italy without the need to bring a specific action to court (Article 64).
This applies only to judgments which were delivered by a public judiciary body. Therefore, are excluded from automatic recognition decisions of administrative bodies or foreign arbitral awards. A foreign judgment will be automatically recognised in Italy if the following conditions are satisfied:
- the judgment was delivered by a judge who had jurisdiction over the subject-matter of the dispute in accordance with the principles governing jurisdiction in the Italian legal system;
- the writ of summons was notified to the defendant in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction where the proceedings took place and the defendant’s rights of defence were not violated;
- parties appeared before the judge in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction where the proceedings took place, or the default judgment was delivered in accordance with that law
- the foreign judgment is final and binding according to the law of the jurisdiction where it was delivered;
- the foreign judgment does not conflict with another final Italian judgment;
- there is no proceeding between the same parties on the same subject-matter which was instituted prior to the foreign proceeding pending before an Italian court;
- the judgment does not conflict with Italian public policy.
If the validity of the foreign judgment is challenged by the debtor or recognition of enforceability is requested by the creditor, Italian courts will ascertain whether or not the foreign judgment meets all the above conditions, but will not review the substance of the matter.
How to enforce non-EU judgments in Italy
A judicial proceeding before an Italian court will be necessary if the creditor seeks the enforcement of the foreign judgment in Italy. Only afterwards will the recognition of enforceability be conceded. The same proceeding will have to be followed in case of non-compliance or if the foreign judgment is challenged by the debtor.
The competent authority to decide on the existence of the required conditions is the Court of Appeal of the place where the foreign judgment will be enforced.
This is a simplified proceeding which starts by lodging a request to the competent Court of Appeal. After the request is lodged, the court will adopt a decree setting the date for the first hearing where both parties (i.e., their lawyers) will appear before the judge. The decree will then need to be notified to the counterparty.
The proceeding has a much shorter duration that the ordinary proceeding. The judge will proceed to verify the documents submitted and ascertain whether the non-EU judgment possesses all the necessary requirements.
The court will then decide on the matter denying or granting the recognition of enforceability. This decision can be appealed before the Italian Supreme Court. If it is not appealed within 30 days, the decision will become final.