Italy is under lockdown due to COVID-19 emergency and the Italian Government has implemented also rules to handle the administration of justice both for the purposes of avoiding material adverse effects on the system and protecting the parties’ rights of defence.
In particular, on 17 March it has been issued the Law Decree no. 18/2020 in which, in addition to economic measures to counteract the effects of COVID-19 outbreak, are contained some rules that affect the organization of justice, amending or clarifying what is already provided for in the Law Decree 11 March 2020 no. 9.
First of all, art. 83 of the new Law Decree expressly repeals articles 1 and 2 of the Law Decree 8 March 2020, providing, with immediate effect, for a “Buffer Period” from Monday 9 March to Thursday 15 April 2020.
During this period, save for the few exceptions provided for in the Law Decree (e.g. urgency proceedings,cases involving minors, alimony, precautionary measures on fundamental rights, etc.):
- the hearings of civil proceedings scheduled within the Buffer Period shall be rescheduled to a new date after 15 April 2020;
- all procedural deadlines falling within the Buffer Period are stayed and postponed after 15 April 2020.
Furthermore, during the Buffer Period, the statute-limitation and forfeiture of rights are also suspended if the underlying right can be enforced only by means of filing a petition or any other procedural initiative prevented by the suspension.
In addition, from 16 April 2020 to 30 June 2020 the Chairman of each Court, having consulted the local health authorities, shall implement measures to protect the health and safety at work and the relevant activities to be performed.
Considering that the positive effects of the measures adopted need time to widespread, it is likely that additional measures also on the management of justice will follow in the next due course.
Stay tuned for further updates.