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Last update: 08-10-2007
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Legal professions - Italy

Legal practitioners fall into the following categories: judges, public prosecutors, court clerks, bailiffs and law officers, advocates and notaries.

The category of lawyer known as procuratore legale no longer exists in Italy, and no other legal professionals are involved in the administration of justice.

Judges exercise jurisdiction and are divided into career judges (togati), who are recruited by competition and are public officials, and honorary judges (justices of the peace, honorary trial judges and supplementary honorary judges), who exercise such powers on a personal and temporary basis without being members of the ordinary judiciary. They are appointed by the General Council of the Judiciary on the basis of an assessment of their qualifications.

Career judges receive an appropriate monthly salary from the State, the amount of which is determined by seniority.

Honorary judges receive lump payments for hearings held and judgments given.

The public prosecutor's offices at the Court of Cassation, the appeals courts and ordinary courts are staffed by magistrates with investigative powers.

They are appointed following the same competition as for judges and are paid on the same basis as judges.

The public prosecutor's offices of the ordinary courts are also staffed by honorary magistrates (honorary assistant prosecutors) who hold hearings for the prosecution service. They are appointed on the basis of qualifications and are paid only the fee set for each hearing.

Court clerks and bailiffs are public officials recruited by competition and are state employees paid as such.

Advocates and notaries are members of liberal professions.

To exercise the legal profession advocates must pass a qualifying examination organised by the Ministry of Justice and held annually at individual Appeals Courts.

Notaries are appointed following a national open competition organised by and held at the Ministry of Justice.

Access to these professions is regulated by law. The judiciary (judges and prosecutors) enjoys complete autonomy and independence in the exercise of its duties, in accordance with the Italian Constitution. All legal practitioners are required to observe a professional code of conduct.

Career magistrates (i.e. judges and prosecutors) are distinguished only by seniority and enjoy a corresponding pay scale. The career structure of the judiciary has the following levels: associate judge, trial court judge, Appeals Court judge, judge of the Court of Cassation, judge qualified to sit in the higher courts.

Advocates are divided into ordinary advocates and advocates qualified to plead before the Court of Cassation.

Court clerks and bailiffs are also divided into higher and lower grades.

There is no such division among notaries.

Legal representation is compulsory for all courts except those presided over by a justice of the peace.

Professional associations are responsible for supervising their members and exercise disciplinary powers over them.

Foreign nationals may practise as advocates if their professional qualifications from their country of origin are recognised in accordance with Directives 89/48/EEC and 98/5/EC.

These Directives were transposed by Legislative Decrees Nos 115/92 and 96/2001.

The legal profession may be exercised in Italy by those who, having obtained their professional qualifications in their respective countries of origin, satisfy the other conditions laid down in the legislative decrees referred to above. These decrees also establish criteria for recognising qualifications obtained abroad.

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Last update: 08-10-2007

 
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