In its recent order No. 19023 of 5 July 2023, the Italian Court of Cassation has ruled on geographical jurisdiction under Article 413 of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure. The Court ruled that the worker’s home, from which he performed his work through remote working, could not be classified as a company dependence in the absence of any objective or subjective connection of the place of performance of the service with the company.
The facts of the case
The case originates from a payment order issued by the Court of Rome in favour of a temporary worker. The employer had been ordered to pay the worker compensation arising from the nullity of the temporary employment contract and for the continuation of the activity beyond the expiry of the time-limit, with the consequent transformation of the temporary employment contract into a permanent employment contract.
The company challenged the payment order, asking for a preliminary determination that the Court of Rome did not have geographical jurisdiction over the matter and that, in the alternative, jurisdiction rested with the Court of Genoa, as the worker’s location of operational and effective activity, or the Court of Udine, as the place where the company had its registered office.
In this application the Court of Rome declared its lack of geographical jurisdiction, holding that jurisdiction rested, alternatively, with the Court of Genoa or Udine, as well as the Court of Civitavecchia, as the worker was resident in Civitavecchia and performed his work through remote working from his home.
The appeal to the Italian Court of Cassation and the decision taken by the Court
The company appealed against that judgment by way of a single legal ground, in which it objected to the erroneous interpretation of the law and of the established case-law regarding the determination by the Court of Rome of the jurisdiction of the Court of Civitavecchia.
The company pointed out, in fact, that there was no basis for establishing jurisdiction in the Court of Civitavecchia, since there was no nucleus of assets organised for the exercise of the business at the employee’s home, thus excluding jurisdiction at the place where remote working was carried out.
The order issued by the Italian Court of Cassation starts from an analysis of Article 413 of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure, which states that the employment judge has geographical jurisdiction alternatively in the place where the relationship was established in the place where the company is located, or, finally, in the place where the company dependence to which the employee is attached is located.
According to the ruling of the Italian Court of Cassation under comment, with specific reference to ‘company dependence’, reference must be made to the place where the employer has located a nucleus, albeit modest, of assets organised for the exercise of the business (Italian Court of Cassation No. 14449/2019; Italian Court of Cassation No. 4767/2017).
Where, on the other hand, as in the case in question, the remote working takes the form, according to the employee, solely of the place where the service is carried out, without any other related aspect that in any way characterises the home as a company dependence, then this criterion cannot be taken into consideration for the purposes of identifying geographical jurisdiction. Consequently, the only criteria which remain applicable are represented by the place where the contract was concluded or the place where the employee was employed.
As a result, the Italian Court of Cassation upheld the Company’s application on the question of jurisdiction, declaring the alternative geographical jurisdiction to be exclusively the courts of Udine and Genoa but not the court of Civitavecchia.
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