With ever-increasing backlogs in the Italian courts, and the length of court proceedings, in particular in civil litigation, rendering it virtually impossible for creditors to recoup lost investments in Italy, we take a brief look at the head of the new government’s Ministry of Justice. These are early days and we have yet to see whether a real improvement in the legal system could be on the cards.
The new Minster of Justice in the Fratelli d’Italia – Lega – Forza Italia coalition government is 75 year old Carlo Nordio, a retired judge and member of parliament for Fratelli d’Italia, elected in Treviso. Most of his court-based career was in the Venice criminal courts where he oversaw enquiries into the Venetian Red Brigades and the Tangentopoli corruption scandal. He is a consultant to the Parliamentary commission on terrorism and President of the ministerial commission for the reform of the Italian penal code.
The Repubblica newspaper reports that he was a renowned adversary of the Milanese prrosecutors at the time of the “Mani Pulite” era, and that he is against the excessive use of remanding prisoners awaiting trial, and the use of wiretaps such as those used often in anti-mafia investigations. He is also an opponent of the Anticorruption law (“Legge Severino”). On the other hand he supports the concept of parliamentary immunity.
The new Justice Minister will preside over ongoing reforms introduced recently. One of the strengths of the Italian legal system has, since the 1948 Constitution introduced at the end of the fascist era, been the independence of the judges and prosecutors. The Constitution limits the number of top judges who are appointed by the government. Recently a new law, adopted in June 2022, aims to introduce performance evaluation and regulate the composition of the Supreme Judicial Council. The law is part of an ambitious reform package that should strengthen constitutional guarantees and make the Italian judiciary more efficient.
Although some say the reforms have potential, critics of the proposed reforms say it pays only lip service to the issues and cannot bring about sufficient change. However, Italy has negotiated two ambitious goals with the European Commission, with the objective of cutting the length of criminal proceedings by 25 percent and that of civil proceedings by 40 percent over the next five years. Even if these targets are only half met this will certainly be an unprecedented improvement. We look forward to hearing how the new government will commit to moving forward with these reforms.