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Italian law: Legal system

Italian Republic

Modern Italy is a republic. The head of state is the President.

The government (executive power) is headed by the Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri.

The legislative body is the Parlamento, made up of two chambers: Camera dei Deputati  [Chamber of Deputies] and the Senato della Repubblica [Senate of the Republic].

Legislation has to be passed by both chambers, promulgated by the President and then published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale della Repubblica and the official statute book, the Raccolta Ufficiale delle leggi e dei Decreti.

The Government can issue Decreti legge when the parliament has officially delegated the power to do so, or in cases of urgent necessity.

Italian court structure: civil, criminal & administrative law

The highest court is the Corte di Cassazione, located in Rome. It has three sezioni

  • civil law
  • criminal law
  • labour law

For particularly difficult cases it can sit “a sezioni unite.”

It hears appeals on issues of law coming from the second-instance courts (see below) and also decides questions on judicial procedure.

Courts of Second Instance

Corte di appello: hears appeals from the Courts of First Instance, enforcement of foreign decisions, some competition matters. Like the Corte di Cassazione it has 3 sections civil, criminal and labour law

Corte d’assise d’appello: as its name indicates, hears appeals from the Corte d’Assise (criminal law).

Courts of First Instance

Tribunale: general court of first instance (both civil and criminal), but can also hear appeals against the decisions of the Giudice di Pace.

Giudice di Pace: minor cases.

Tribunale per i minorenni: juvenile (under 18) court, hearing both civil and criminal cases.

Corte d’assise:  criminal cases

Administrative law

Consiglio di Stato (Council of State) appeal court for administrative matters

Tribunali Amministrativi Regionali – TAR

Public Accounts & Tax

Corte dei Conti (State Auditors' Department)

Commissioni Tributarie Provinciali

Commissioni Tributarie Distrettuali