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Cartabia Reform: Stages of The Civil Process

13 Apr 2023 - Civil Law - Min Read 6 min
Cartabia Reform: Stages of The Civil Process

The stages of the civil process will change after the Cartabia Reform comes into effect.

On 28 February 2023, Legislative Decree 149/2022 (which follows Law 206/2021) was implemented in the agreements with the European Union on Justice.

The Cartabia Reform involved the entire Italian Justice: significant changes occurred in the Civil Procedure Code, Civil Code, Criminal Code, and Criminal Procedure Code.

If we refer only to the Italian civil process, we can say that it comes out deeply modified and modernized. The intention of the legislator is that it will be faster and more efficient, thanks to the conscious use of new technologies.

Mentioning news, the Cartabia Reform:

  • adopted new forms of mediation and conciliation
  • has intensified the use of the telematic process
  • has anticipated most of the defensive writs to before the first hearing, whose role is enhanced and amplified.


The content of the summons must be clear, concise, and include a reference to the negative conciliation report if the claim is subject to a condition of admissibility.

In the part of the vocatio in ius (summons) the plaintiff must inform the defendant that “technical defense by counsel is compulsory in all proceedings before the court, except for cases provided for in Article 86 or by special laws, and that the party, if the legal prerequisites exist, may apply … ” for admission to legal aid. 

There are now at least 120 days between the day of service of the summons and the day of the first hearing.

The defendant must present himself within 70 days before the hearing (as indicated in the summons).

The Stages of The Civil Process After the Cartabia Reform

Changes to the first instance trial will lead to the determination of new stages in the civil process:

  1. Introduction and preliminary inquiry stage: the civil process begins with the filing of the introductory document with the competent section of the court. Unlike what happened before, already at this stage, the preliminary inquiry stage is held simultaneously. The judge conducts the preliminary verifications and confirms or changes the hearing dates.
  2. Introductory stage: the parties make their arguments and provide evidence to support them. What is new here is the time available to the parties to argue and prove their case, which may not exceed 70 days.
  3. First hearing: at the first hearing, the Judge will assess a conciliatory proposal and the parties must appear in person.
  4. Preliminary stage: at the end of the introductory stage, we proceed to the preliminary stage, during which the judge evaluates the evidence presented by the parties and decides whether it will be necessary for the parties to produce additional evidence by setting the trial schedule.
  5. Decisional stage: Once the preliminary stage is completed, the decisional phase opens. The investigating judge sets the hearing, at written argument, for remittal for decision (or to the panel) and assigns the parties deadlines for closing briefs.

The written treatment remains at the discretion of the judge, who could opt for the mixed or oral treatment.

The civil trial ends with the final judgment. The judge may give reasons for his decision in a concise and simplified form.

The New Hearings in The Civil Process

The new hearings caress the idea of using less presence and more telematic exchange.

What was tested out of necessity during the Pandemic turned out to be a useful tool for trial purposes.

Prior to the initial hearing, three pleadings will have already been exchanged, whereas in the past the exchange was after the first hearing.

As of January 1, 2023, in all trials, it will be possible to replace the hearing, even if it has already been scheduled, with the filing of written briefs, containing motions and conclusions.

The Changes of the Preparatory Stage of the Trial

In fact, the preparatory stage of the trial becomes longer, because the first hearing will take place after a longer period than the summons that introduces it.

The work done in the meantime, however, will make up for the lost time, making the following stages faster.

The judge arrives at the trial informed and prepared, thanks to the three supplementary memoranda filed in the meantime, under penalty of forfeiture. In fact, supplementary memoranda must be filed within the following deadlines:

  • First Memorandum: at least 40 days before the appearance, the parties must propose the claims and exceptions or may specify or amend the claims, exceptions and conclusions already proposed. At the same time, the plaintiff may request to call in a third party, if it is needed, following the defendant’s defenses in the pleading;
  • Second Memorandum: at least 20 days before the appearance, the parties may respond to new or amended claims and exceptions by the other parties, propose exceptions, following new claims made in the first plea, point to evidence and produce documents;
  • Third Memorandum: at least 10 days before the appearance, the parties may further respond to new exceptions and indicate evidence to the contrary.

The New Act of Appeal

Abuse of the appeal act will no longer be allowed.

A fine of between 250 and 10,000 euros will be imposed in the case of appeals, against the execution of the judgment, that are found to be totally unfounded.

The simplification is to entrust the investigating judge with all procedural steps, while it is up to the panel to decide.

The cases where the matter is brought back to the First Instance Court are now strictly limited to hypotheses of appearance rules violations.

The appeal must first contain the grounds, i.e. the part of the first instance decision that is being challenged, the proposed censures to the reconstruction of the facts made by the first instance judge, the violations of law complained of, and their relevance to the decision under appeal.

No less than 90 days must elapse between the service of the notice of appeal and the day of the hearing if resident in Italy or 150 days if resident abroad.

The defendant must enter an appearance no later than 20 days before the appearance hearing set in the notice of appeal.

The Reform of the Court Judgment of Cassation

The reform relies on the so-called filter in the Supreme Court: appeals that are inadmissible, inadmissible, or manifestly unfounded will be immediately rejected.

Acting as a filter in each chamber will be a judge who, upon detecting any of the above possible outcomes, will notify the parties, leaving them with the option of opting toward requesting a council chamber, waiving the appeal.

The figure of the filter judge replaces the so-called sixth section, the one that performed exclusively filter functions, which has been permanently eliminated.

The Court of Cassation, whether in unified or simple chambers, rules in open court:

  1. Whether the question of law is of particular importance;
  2. In cases of revocation of a final judgment on the ground that it is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Alternative dispute resolution

The reform introduces important tax incentives for mediation, assisted negotiation and arbitration practices, i.e., those practices that replace court proceedings, the so-called “ADRs” (acronym for Alternative dispute resolution).

Provision is made for the extension of legal aid.

Should the use of ADR fail, it will still be possible to use the evidence gathered in the inevitable civil trial.

The New Juvenile Trial and The Family Court

There is also the new juvenile trial and the planned introduction of the Family Court, which is reform of great moment, but destined to take longer to be fulfilled.

From March 2023, for juveniles and families, there will be a single rite in all proceedings concerning them. While waiting for the establishment of the Family Court, there will be no more alternating cases between ordinary court and juvenile court.

Amendments to The Notification

The obligation of notification by PEC is introduced for those recipients who are obliged to obtain a PEC address resulting from public lists, or for those who have a digital address (d.lgs. n. 82 of 2005).

Our lawyers, in welcoming all the news aimed at ensuring a more reasonable duration of the process, are at your disposal for any doubt related to the effects of the Cartabia Reform.

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Calogero Boccadutri

Calogero Boccadutri is the Managing Partner of Boccadutri International Law Firm. He has trial experience in Forex, Personal Injury and Administrative litigation.

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