Act No 794 of 13 June 1942 and subsequent amendments to that Act govern lawyers' fees for handling civil, commercial, administrative and tax cases; fees for individual legal services are paid on the basis of the tariffs approved by Ministerial Order No 585 of 1994.(Costs of trials) - The costs (in the broad sense) of civil and commercial proceedings include the costs of trials and expenses and fees for legal representation.
The costs of proceedings consist of a standard payment for entry in the cause list and other expenditure items that may arise (such as
technical consultancy and copyright fees).
The standard payment referred to in Consolidated Text No 115 of 2002 is payable at each degree of adjudication and for every civil trial, including involuntary and voluntary bankruptcy proceedings, except where specifically exempted by law.
The payment is not required in proceedings regarding a person's family, civil status or capacity, as set out in Book IV of the Code of Civil Procedure (for example, in cases of separation, provisions relating to minors and proprietary relations between spouses), preventive proceedings (e.g. attachment of debts); land registry proceedings, proceedings to enforce delivery and release, proceedings regarding child maintenance payments, all proceedings concerning children (e.g. proceedings regarding parental responsibility) and rules on competence and jurisdiction.
The reasons for any exemption must be stated in the conclusions to the instituting document.
The standard payment is not required in the case of civil actions for compensation in connection with criminal proceedings where the application is only that the offender be convicted; if an application is made for compensation, even provisionally, the payment is due if the application is granted.
The charge varies between a minimum of €62 and a maximum of €930, depending on the nature and value of the case.(Payment obligations) - Each party must meet the cost of the procedures completed or requested and any measures necessary for proceedings where required by law or the judge (e.g. consultancy fees). Where the party is eligible for legal aid, the State bears the cost.
The standard charge must be paid by the party who enters the case, lodges the initial appeal or, in enforcement proceedings, submits an
application for assignment or sale.
The value of the case is indicated in the conclusions of the instituting document; a party who amends an application, lodges a counterclaim or intervenes independently and thereby increases the value of the case is required to pay an additional charge.
The judge enjoys discretionary powers with regard to costs and may order them to be paid in part or in full, taking account of the overall outcome of the dispute. He must take account of the extent to which the claim is well founded. The decision may be challenged.
The losing party must refund the winner of the case counsel's expenses and fees, plus any amounts paid for court-appointed experts or expert witnesses as remunerated by the judge. Losing parties are also required to cover the other expenditure involved in conducting proceedings, which is paid to the clerk of the court together with the cost of notifying the judgment.
Where there is an entitlement to legal aid, the person is not required to pay the standard charge, standard payments for official notification, certain fees (registry fees, judicial mortgage and land registry fees) and copyright.
The State pays the following:
Anyone with a taxable income not exceeding €9269.22, as shown on his or her latest tax return, is entitled to legal aid. The income threshold is adjusted every two years by order of the Ministry of Justice to take account of variations in ISTAT's consumer price index.
Where the party concerned lives with a spouse or other members of the family, the total family income, including that of the applicant, is taken as the income.
When the income is assessed, account is also taken of legally tax-exempt income.
Only personal income is taken into account where personal rights are being challenged or in trials where the applicant's interests are in conflict with those of the other members of the nuclear family with which he or she is living.
When the situation or fact occurs that gives rise to legal proceedings, foreign nationals and stateless persons lawfully resident in Italy are accorded the same rights as Italian citizens, as are non-profit organisations or associations that are not involved in commercial activities.
Legal aid cannot be obtained in cases involving the assignment of claims of others, unless the assignment has been made in settlement of previous claims.
Anyone believing that they satisfy the legal requirements may request legal aid without using pre-printed forms at any stage or instance of proceedings but must sign the application.
The signature must be authenticated by the party's counsel or in accordance with Section 38 of Presidential Decree No 2000/445 (the application must be signed in the presence of a member of the court staff but may be submitted with a non-authenticated photocopy of a document proving the identity of the signature holder).
The application may be sent by fax or e-mail, as long as the appropriate formalities are observed.
In the case of income earned abroad, nationals of non-EU Member States must attach certification from the appropriate consulate confirming the truthfulness of the statement.
If requested by the judge or the relevant bar association, the applicant must produce documents proving the truthfulness of his or her statement, otherwise the application will not be admissible.
If the case is at the appeal stage, the competent body is the bar association where the judge issued the contested ruling.
The bar association will grant the applicant legal aid within ten days if it is convinced that the income does not exceed the fixed ceiling and the applicant's claims are not manifestly unfounded.Where a civil action for damages is brought in connection with criminal proceedings, the application must be presented or must arrive at the chambers of the trial judge, who will deal with it.
If the applicant is in custody, the copy of the order will be forwarded in accordance with the rules set out in the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Applicants granted legal aid may also nominate expert witnesses where allowed by law.
If the case is at the appeal stage, the lawyer will be chosen from the lists drawn up by bar associations of the court of appeal circuit where the judge who made the contested ruling has his or her chambers.
The list of legal aid lawyers comprises professionals who have applied to be put on it and have the qualifications necessary to represent clients.
The bar association takes the decision to include lawyers on the list on the basis of the lawyer's attitude, professional experience gained over at least six years and the fact that he or she has not been subject to disciplinary measures.
Lawyers may be struck off the list at any time. It is renewed every year and made available to the public at all judicial offices on the circuit.
Counsel representing the recipient of legal aid must apply for the notice that the trial has been discontinued if it is struck from the cause list on the grounds of inactivity by the parties (under Section 309 of the Code of Civil Procedure). Failure to do so is a disciplinary matter.
The applicant's counsel's fees and expenditure are paid by the judge at the end of every stage or level of the trial and at the end of the proceedings.
Expenses and fees are also paid to the judge's assistant and any expert acting on behalf of the applicant.
The recipient and the parties involved, including the public prosecutor, are notified of and may challenge the payment order.
The applicant's counsel, the judge's assistant and the applicant's expert may not request or receive remuneration or compensation from their client other than that provided for by law. Any agreement to the contrary is null and void and any infringement of the ban is a serious disciplinary offence.
In the case of a civil action brought in connection with criminal proceedings, the costs of the proceedings are governed by Section 108 of the Consolidated Text. Eligibility for legal aid, however, gives the recipient, broadly speaking, the same entitlements as those covered by the general rules.
However, if the legal aid recipient loses, he or she may not use legal aid to challenge the judgment, apart from compensation claims in connection with criminal proceedings.
The trial judge may also withdraw legal aid at any time, if it emerges that the eligibility criteria have not been satisfied or that the party concerned has acted or reacted in bad faith or with gross negligence.
The withdrawal takes effect from the moment when the change in circumstances has been verified, but in other cases it is retroactive and requires the recovery of the sums paid by the State.
If it is discovered that false statements have been made, the finance office requests the withdrawal of the aid and forwards the evidence to the Public Prosecutor responsible for instituting any resultant criminal proceedings.
Checks that the eligibility criteria continue to be satisfied may be repeated during the proceedings at the request of the judicial authorities or on the initiative of the finance office.
False statements regarding income carry a sentence of between one and five years' imprisonment and a fine of between €309.87 and €1549.37. The sentence is increased if the false statement resulted in the claimant obtaining or continuing to obtain legal aid.
The conviction results in the retroactive withdrawal of the aid and the recovery from the offender of the sums paid out by the State.
Act No 149 of 28 March 2001 (published in Law Gazette No 96/2001) introduced mandatory assigned counsel in proceedings concerning the notice of abandonment of children and in parental responsibility proceedings (limiting responsibility and forfeiture).
The provisions will require additional implementing legislation and will enter into force on 1 July 2003 (Decree Act No 126/2002).
Until then, Consolidated Text No 115/2002 will continue to govern trials covered by Act No 184/1983 (proceedings concerning the notice of availability for adoption and adoption proceedings). Section 143 of the Consolidated Test requires the State to pay:
Procedures for deporting nationals of non-EU countries
In deportation proceedings concerning nationals of non-EU countries, the State bears the cost of the lawyer's and the judge's assistant's fees and expenses, which are paid by the proceeding judge.
Challenges may be submitted to the president of the relevant judicial office.
Care and banning proceedings instituted by the public prosecutor
Costs are paid in accordance with the general rule.
However, fees for the technical consultants of the person facing the ban or being placed in care are borne by the State.
Once the court has ruled, the State has the right to request payment from guardians if the judge establishes that the income is in excess of the ceiling fixed for legal aid in civil cases, having consulted the documents presented or investigations conducted by the finance office.
Last update: 23-03-2005