DLP Insights

Civil law court proceedings reform – employment provisions (ABA – Winter 2022-2023 International Committee Newsletter, 9 February 2023 – Vittorio De Luca)

Categories: DLP Insights, Publications, News, Publications | Tag: Legislative Decree

01 Mar 2023

All labor cases in Italy are under the jurisdiction of a dedicated specialized labor court.

This court is characterized by high outstanding celerity (speed and effectiveness).

The celerity of the labor trial is ensured by:

  • a special judicial procedure dedicated to disputes concerning labor relations (including dismissals), anti-union conduct, and social security;
  • orality of the procedure;
  • broad investigative powers granted to the judges.

Notwithstanding the above, the Italian Government recently approved reforms (Legislative Decree 149/2022) with the aim of improving the efficiency of the civil proceedings and amending the regulation of alternative dispute resolution, includes specific provisions with the aim to make the present system more efficient by (i) tidying up and coordinating some procedural provisions that in recent times were amended repeatedly and (ii) making it easier to sign settlement agreements that are binding on the worker.

The main aspects of the above-mentioned reform, with specific reference to labor procedure, are outlined below.

Repeal of the so-called “Fornero” proceeding

The so-called “Fornero” reform, in 2015, introduced a specific track for proceedings concerning dismissals. The purpose of the reform was to speed up judicial determination of the legitimacy of dismissals. A few years after its implementation, however, the reform resulted in a proliferation of lawsuits. This was because when there were claims based on issues other than the legitimacy of the dismissal, the plaintiff was required to file multiple appeals.

The reform just passed aims to resolve this anomaly by abolishing the dual channel and, at the same time, provide for a fast track for all cases having a request for judicial determination of the legitimacy of dismissal.

Labor proceedings will thus be governed only by Articles 409 et seq. of the Code of Civil Procedure, to which a new specific section has been added for court cases concerning dismissals. 

More specifically, it is provided that for the handling and decision of cases challenging dismissals with a request for reinstatement, the judge may reduce the time of the proceedings by up to one half, without prejudice to the minimum time limit of compulsory twenty days that must be granted between the notification of the claim to the defendant and the day of the hearing.

The same requirements of celerity and concentration are also extended with reference to appeal and cassation judgments.

Resort to assisted negotiation

As is the case in many other countries, in Italy, in principle, employee waivers and settlements may not be binding unless they are signed before a conciliation commission (i.e., Courts; Territorial Labour Authority; Trade Unions; Certification Committees).

Legislative Decree 149/2022 amends this provision by allowing for the possibility of a binding waiver in the case of a settlement signed between the employer and the employee when both parties are assisted by at least one lawyer.

The latter provision constitutes a so-called zero-cost reform that will have the effect of making it much easier, less onerous and faster to sign binding settlement agreements.

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