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General framework

Domestic law

Which domestic laws and regulations govern the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?

The recognition and enforcement of EU judgments in Italy are governed by EU Regulation 1215/2012 (the recast Brussels Regulation), which replaced the first Brussels Regulation (EU Regulation 44/2001) as of January 10 2015.

The recast Brussels Regulation applies to civil and commercial matters, with the exception of:

  • cases regarding the status or legal capacity of natural persons and property rights arising out of a matrimonial relationship (or considered as an equivalent relationship under the applicable law);
  • insolvency proceedings;
  • social security;
  • arbitration;
  • maintenance obligations arising from a family relationship, parentage, marriage or affinity; and
  • wills and succession.

If there is no applicable international convention, the recognition and enforcement of non-EU judgments in Italy are governed by Law 218/1995.

International conventions

Which international conventions and bilateral treaties relating to the recognition and enforcement of judgments apply in your jurisdiction?

The recognition and enforcement of non-EU judgments in Italy are regulated by a number of bilateral treaties (eg, with Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Moldova, Tunisia and Turkey) and multilateral conventions, including:

  • the European Convention on International Commercial Arbitration 1961 (Geneva Convention);
  • the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters 1965 (Hague Service Convention);
  • the Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil and Commercial Matters 1970 (Hague Evidence Convention); and
  • the European Free Trade Association Convention on Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters 1988 (Lugano Convention).

Competent courts

Which courts are competent to hear cases on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

EU judgments

With regard to judgments issued in another EU member state, recognition and enforcement do not require special procedures or declarations of enforceability on the part of national authorities. According to Article 75 of the recast Brussels Regulation:

  • the court of first instance is the competent authority to rule on applications for refusal of enforcement under Article 47(1) of the regulation;
  • the court of appeal is the competent authority to rule on appeals of decisions on an application for refusal of enforcement lodged in accordance with Article 49(2) of the regulation; and
  • the Supreme Court is the competent authority to rule on any further appeal lodged in accordance with Article 50.

Non-EU judgments With regard to non-EU judgments, Article 67 of Law 218/1995 provides that the court of appeal in the district where the judgment is to be enforced is the competent authority to ascertain whether it conforms to the requirements for recognition if:

  • the foreign judgment is not complied with;
  • its recognition is contested; or
  • the relevant party wishes to enforce it.

Distinction between recognition and enforcement

Is there a legal distinction between the recognition and enforcement of a judgment?

Under Italian law, there is a legal distinction between the recognition and enforcement of a judgment: recognition makes the foreign judgment effective in the Italian legal system, whereas enforcement meets in practical terms the requirements of the party that wishes to rely on a foreign award for enforcement purposes.

Ease of enforcement

In general, how easy is it to secure recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?

In general terms, securing recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in Italy is reasonably easy, thanks to the large number of regulations, conventions and treaties to which Italy is a party.

Obtaining a declaration of enforceability usually takes from one to three months.

Nonetheless, the excessive workload of the Italian courts and delays in both the declaratory and enforcement phases of the proceeding may also affect the speed and ease with which foreign awards are recognised and enforced in Italy.

Finally, due to the more favourable regime of the recast Brussels Regulation, recognition and enforcement of EU judgments are automatic and thus simpler and faster than recognition and enforcement of non EU-judgments.

Reform

Are any reforms to the framework on recognition and enforcement of judgments envisioned or underway?

There are no current proposals to reform the framework on recognition and enforcement of judgments.

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.

Opposition

Defences

What defences are available to the losing party to a foreign judgment that is sought to be recognised and enforced in your jurisdiction?

The losing party to a foreign judgment that is sought to be recognised and enforced in Italy can appeal to the court against the enforcement; the consequent opposition procedure is governed by Italian law. Opposition is also permitted in cases where individual acts of the enforcement procedure are deemed to be formally irregular.

Moreover, under Article 46 of EU Regulation 1215/2012 (the recast Brussels Regulation), the losing party can oppose the enforcement of an EU judgment on the grounds set out in Article 45 of the regulation (ie the circumstances under which recognition will be refused).

Injunctive relief

What injunctive relief is available to defendants (eg, anti-suit injunctions)?

In accordance with Article 38 of the recast Brussels Regulation, if an EU decision is challenged in the member state of origin or if the grounds for recognition are contested, the judge before whom the recognition proceedings are pending may suspend the procedure.

Anti-suit injunctions are not compatible with the recast Brussels Regulation and are not permitted by Italian law.

Recognition and enforcement procedure

Formal procedure

What is the formal procedure for seeking recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment?

Whenever enforceable in the member state of origin, EU judgments are enforceable in Italy and no further declaration of enforceability is required. Apart from cases in which the recognition is challenged, for judgments to be enforced it is sufficient for the losing party to be served with a copy of the judgment and a certificate issued in accordance with Article 53 of EU Regulation 1215/2012 (the recast Brussels Regulation), certifying that the decision is enforceable and containing an extract of the award with information on the recoverable costs of the proceedings and the calculation of interest.

The party seeking enforcement can directly request the court bailiff’s intervention.

The losing party can oppose the enforcement on the grounds set forth in Article 45 of the recast Brussels Regulation.

With regard to non-EU judgments, a declaration of enforceability is required under Article 67 of Law 218/1995, provided that no specific international convention applies to the parties.

Anyone entitled to seek enforcement must provide the enforcing authority with:

  • a certified copy of the judgment, duly apostilled (or legalised);
  • a court certificate confirming that the judgment is final and binding between the parties; and
  • a certified translation into Italian of both the judgment and the certificate.

Before the start of enforcement proceedings, the party concerned must issue a final notice of payment to the losing party, asking it to comply with the decision within 10 days, beyond which the award will be enforced. If the losing party still fails to comply within this timeframe, the party seeking enforcement must serve the debtor (through a court bailiff) with a further notice of seizure triggering the enforcement.

Timeframe

What is the typical timeframe for the proceedings to grant recognition and enforcement?

The timeframe for the proceedings to grant a declaration of enforceability depends to a large extent on the specific court of appeal before which enforcement is sought. It normally takes from one to three months to obtain a declaration of enforceability.

Fees

What fees apply to applications for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

EU judgments are directly recognised and enforceable in any other EU member state, with no requirement for further charges, special procedures or declarations of enforceability.

For the procedure of recognition of non-EU decisions, the applicable court fee is €125.

For both EU and non-EU decisions, the court fee applicable to oppositions to recognition is the fee applicable to procedures under Article 702bis and following of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure, and is therefore based on the overall value of the cause of action.

Security

Must the applicant for recognition and enforcement provide security for costs?

It is not necessary for the applicant to provide security for the costs of the proceedings in the event of recognition or enforcement not being granted. The institution of security for costs was declared irreconcilable with the Italian Constitution by the Constitutional Court in the mid-1960s.

Appeal

Are decisions on recognition and enforcement subject to appeal?

Decisions on recognition and enforcement of EU judgments are subject to appeal before:

  • the court of appeal, which is the competent authority to rule on appeals of decisions on an application for refusal of enforcement lodged in accordance with Article 49(2) of the recast Brussels Regulation (Article 30, provisions supplementing the Code of Civil Procedure (Law 150/2011)); and
  • the Supreme Court, which is the competent authority to rule on any further appeal lodged in accordance with Article 50 of the regulation.

The losing party must oppose the decision on recognition or enforceability within one month of its service on the losing party or within two months if the losing party is domiciled in another EU member state.

With regard to non-EU judgments, an issued declaration of enforceability may be appealed before the Italian Supreme Court (Article 67 of Law 218/1995).

The procedure to be followed for the recognition of both EU and non-EU decisions is governed by Italian law (in accordance with Article 702bis and following of the Code of Civil Procedure).

Other costs

How does the enforcing court address other costs issues arising in relation to the foreign judgment (eg, calculation of interest, exchange rates)?

It is not necessary to convert the value of the judgment into local currency. If the amount due is determined in a currency that is not legal tender in Italy, the losing party can pay in the legal currency at the exchange rate of the due date and place established for the payment, in accordance with Article 1278 of the Italian Civil Code.

The party seeking enforcement of a foreign judgment is entitled to interest at the rate indicated in the judgment.

Enforcement against third parties

To what extent can the courts enforce a foreign judgment against third parties?

The courts can enforce foreign judgments against third parties on the same basis as domestic judgments. Similarly, third parties can oppose the enforcement in cases where it may be detrimental to their position.

Partial recognition and enforcement

Can the courts grant partial recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

Article 48 of EU Regulation 44/2001 specifically entitles the party concerned to ask the enforcing authority to issue an enforceability declaration referring only to some parts of the EU judgment at hand. Such a declaration is no longer necessary and the EU judgment is directly enforceable in any other EU member state, provided that it is enforceable in the state of origin. If the losing party opposes the enforcement and the enforcing authority refuses to recognise one or more parts of the EU decision, partial enforcement of the recognised parts of the judgment is still possible.