No need for panic! Life in Italy is going on almost as normal for most of us at the moment, despite the fact that since 10th March the country is on government-ordered lock-down because of COVD-19. We are just trying to keep healthy and look after our loved ones with a few extra precautions to avoid catching any unwanted germs, and hoping that these measures help restore normality.
In our daily work as lawyers there is some obvious unexpected upheaval and we will have to assess on a case by case basis how we should advise our clients to proceed, and we will be in contact individually with any person who risks the progress of their case being affected or delayed.
We know now that the normal functioning of the courts is “suspended” until 22nd March and all hearings whether in the civil, criminal, tax or administrative courts will be adjourned (“rinviati d’ufficio“) and new dates assigned. This urgent measure involving the legal system and court practice in Italy was published on 8th March in the Gazzetta Ufficiale.
Some categories of hearing will continue, including those concerning guardianship orders, minors, maintenance claims, but in these cases only where the hearing absolutely cannot be adjourned, as set out in Article 10 of this decree published a few days earlier:
Deadlines (for example the period by which a defence must be entered or pleadings lodged) are also suspended as they would normally be over the “suspensione feriale” during the summer break.
There is then a second phase of suspension that is also proposed from 23rd March up to 31st May, the organisation of which will be studied and clarified during the first phase depending on the evolution of the epidemic, and we will keep our clients updated on the development of this next phase.
We will post below relevant any relevant caselaw or decisions as they come in on how the legal process is being affected, as this dramatic situation develops.