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Conditions for recognition and enforcement

Enforceable judgments

Which types of judgment (eg, monetary judgments, mandatory or prohibitory orders) are enforceable in your jurisdiction and which (if any) are explicitly excluded from recognition and enforcement (eg, default judgments, judgments granting punitive damages)?

The following types of EU judgment are enforceable in Italy:

  • monetary judgments;
  • mandatory and prohibitory orders;
  • declaratory judgments;
  • default judgments;
  • judgments issued without notice (ex parte);
  • decisions granting provisional measures;
  • enforcement orders and pre-judgment attachment orders if enforceable in the issuing EU member state;
  • European orders for payment;
  • European enforcement orders for uncontested claims; and
  • judgments granting punitive damages (in a July 5 2017 decision (16601) the Supreme Court confirmed for the first time that the recognition of a foreign award condemning one party to pay punitive damages is compatible with public policy in Italy).

The following types of non-EU judgment are enforceable in Italy:

  • final (or having conclusive effect) monetary judgments;
  • final (or having conclusive effect) mandatory and prohibitory orders;
  • final (or having conclusive effect) declaratory judgments;
  • final (or having conclusive effect) default judgments;
  • final and binding judgments issued without notice to the losing party (ex parte); and
  • final and binding orders.

The following types of foreign judgment are not enforceable in Italy:

  • EU judgments that are not enforceable under the law of the state of issue;
  • EU preliminary and provisional orders that are not enforceable under the law of the state of issue;
  • non-EU decisions that are not final or that have no conclusive effect; and
  • non-EU preliminary and provisional orders.

How are foreign judgments subject to appeal treated?

EU judgments subject to appeal are recognised and enforceable in Italy only if they are enforceable under the law of the member state of origin. In accordance with Article 37(a) of EU Regulation 1215/2012 (the recast Brussels Regulation), the court before which a judgment rendered in another member state is invoked may suspend the proceedings if the judgment is challenged in the member state of origin.

Non-EU judgments cannot be recognised in Italy unless they are no longer appealable, in accordance with Article 64(d) of Law 218/1995.

Formal requirements

What are the formal and documentary requirements for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

An EU judgment is recognised and enforceable without any need for a special procedure or declaration of enforceability. However, for enforcement purposes, the applicant must provide the enforcement authority with:

  • a copy of the judgment;
  • a document certifying that the judgment is enforceable, containing an extract of the judgment and the relevant information on costs and interest; and
  • a certified translation of both the judgment and the certificate, if requested by the enforcement authority.

Any party seeking to enforce a non-EU judgment may ask the Italian court to ascertain whether the requirements for recognition are met, by filing with the court:

  • a certified copy of the judgment, duly apostilled (or legalised);
  • a court certificate confirming that the judgment is final and binding between the parties (ie, no remedies or challenges are still available); and
  • a certified translation into Italian of both the judgment and the certificate.

In cases where a specific convention governing the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments exists and is in force between Italy and the state of origin, the convention in question will apply and the above provisions will be disregarded.

Substantive requirements

What substantive requirements (if any) apply to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments? Are enforcing courts in your jurisdiction permitted to review the foreign judgment on the merits?

In principle, an EU judgment that is enforceable in the EU member state of origin will be recognised and enforced in any other member state, with no requirements imposed, provided that the defendant was in a position to make due arrangements for its defence.

Italian enforcement authorities are not permitted to review the foreign judgment on the merits, in accordance with Article 53 of the recast Brussels Regulation.

In accordance with Article 64 of Law 218/1995, a non-EU judgment is recognised and enforceable in Italy if:

  • the court that issued the decision was competent to rule on the matter in accordance with general principles in Italy;
  • there was no breach of fundamental defence rights; and
  • the decision is final and binding under the law of the state of origin.

Limitation period

What is the limitation period for enforcement of a foreign judgment?

There is no specific provision on the limitation periods within which foreign judgments must be enforced.

Grounds for refusal

On what grounds can recognition and enforcement be refused?

An EU judgment will not be recognised in Italy if:

  • its recognition would be manifestly contrary to public policy in Italy;
  • it was issued in default of appearance and the defendant was not in a position to make due defence arrangements;
  • a judgment incompatible with the judgment to be recognised was previously issued by an Italian court on the same cause of action between the same parties; or
  • the rules governing jurisdiction set out in Chapter II of the recast Brussels Regulation were not complied with.

A non-EU judgment will not be recognised if:

  • the due process of law was violated (eg, the defendant did not appear in the proceedings because the court summons was not served on it in due time and form);
  • a judgment irreconcilable with the one to be recognised was previously issued by an Italian court on the same cause of action between the same parties;
  • proceedings on the same cause of action between the same parties were previously commenced before an Italian court and are still pending; or
  • the decision is incompatible with public policy in Italy.

Service of process

To what extent does the enforcing court review the service of process in the original foreign proceedings?

Under Article 42 of the recast Brussels Regulation, in order to enforce an EU decision granting provisional measures, the enforcing court must review proof of service in the original foreign proceeding if the measure was imposed without the defendant being summoned to appear.

With regard to non-EU default judgments, the court must refuse recognition if it finds that in the original foreign proceedings the court summons was not served on the defendant in due time and form.

Public policy

What public policy issues are considered in the court’s decision to grant recognition and enforcement? Is there any notable case law in this regard?

Both EU and non-EU judgments can be refused recognition if deemed incompatible with domestic public policy, but such a refusal is rare.

The Supreme Court recently overturned the established case law position whereby the recognition of foreign decisions awarding punitive damages was held to be contrary to public policy. Therefore, as of July 2017 such decisions – where they are issued in a state where punitive damages are permitted by the law and their application is foreseeable – can legitimately be recognised and enforced in Italy.

The court does not consider consistency with public policy ex officio, but only if requested to do so by the opposing party.

Jurisdiction

What is the extent of the enforcing court’s power to review the personal and subject-matter jurisdiction of the foreign court that issued the judgment?

For EU judgments, a review of the jurisdiction of the court of the member state of origin is excluded on the basis of the principle prohibiting the seised judge from reviewing the merits of the judgment, within the meaning of Article 52 of the recast Brussels Regulation. Nonetheless, recognition must be refused if the decision was issued in breach of:

  • the rules governing jurisdiction on insurance matters, as set forth in Section 3 of Chapter II of the regulation;
  • the rules governing jurisdiction on contracts concluded by consumers, as set forth in Section 4 of Chapter II of the regulation; or
  • the rules establishing exclusive jurisdiction, as set forth in Article 22 of Section 6 of the regulation.

However, in accordance with Article 64 of Law 218/1995, a non-EU judgment will be refused recognition if the court seised finds that the issuing authority was not competent to issue the decision, in accordance with Italian jurisdiction criteria.

Concurrent proceedings and conflicting judgments

How do the courts in your jurisdiction address applications for recognition and enforcement where there are concurrent proceedings (foreign or domestic) or conflicting judgments involving the same parties/dispute?

Under Article 45(c) and (d) of the recast Brussels Regulation, the recognition of an EU judgment will be refused if the judgment in question is irreconcilable with a judgment passed between the same parties in the member state of the recognising authority; recognition will likewise be refused if the judgment is irreconcilable with an earlier decision passed in another member state involving the same cause of action and between the same parties, in cases where that decision meets the requirements for recognition in the state of the recognising authority.

Moreover, in accordance with Article 37(a) of the recast Brussels Regulation, the court before which a judgment issued in another member state is invoked may suspend the proceedings if the judgment is challenged in the member state of origin.

With regard to non-EU judgments, they will not be recognised if they are irreconcilable with another judgment previously passed by an Italian court on the same cause of action and between the same parties, and if proceedings on the same cause of action between the same parties were previously commenced before an Italian court and are still pending.

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