On 19 April 2016, the Italian Competition Authority ("ICA") opened an in-depth investigation into the Notarial Board of Rome ("NBR") and the Associazione Notariato Romano Dismissioni Immobiliari ("ASNODIM") — both of which represent notaries operating in Rome — in relation to an alleged infringement of Article 2 of Law No. 287 of 1990; the Italian prohibition against anti-competitive agreements.
The ICA highlighted competition concerns with Resolution No. 2287 (the "Resolution"), which was approved by the NBR in 2006 and which states that: (1) certain professional tasks may only be assigned to notaries belonging to ASNODIM; (2) such assignment must follow a specific procedure; and (3) only the NBR may negotiate with end-clients concerning notary fees. The ICA asserts that the scope of the Resolution enables the NBR and ASNODIM to both allocate customers and to fix prices; both of which breach competition law.
The NBR responded to the issues raised by the ICA by contesting that the Resolution is legally compliant since its application relates exclusively to sales of state-owned property located in Rome in accordance with Italian Law No. 410 of 2001 (the "Law").
However, the ICA dismissed this defence, confirming that the Law is not intended to provide such a formal role to the NBR, and that the Law could be reached through less restrictive means.
If the wrongdoing is proved, any adverse decision by the ICA has the potential to force widespread introspection of Italian professional associations and their pricing arrangements.