New legislation overhauls and their impact on IP litigation
Italy has recently introduced significant changes to its justice system, aiming to streamline its civil procedure for efficiency and expediency. These reforms seek to reduce the current backlog of IP cases and improve access to justice for all involved in patent disputes.
An important aspect of these reforms concerns the digitisation of court procedures. Due to the pandemic, remote hearings had been temporarily introduced and are now officially a permanent fixture, codified into the Italian Civil Procedure Code. This move recognises remote hearings as a viable and effective option that enable cases to be heard when in-person attendance is impossible. It also acknowledges the benefits of such hearings in terms of reducing costs, increasing efficiency and improving accessibility.
Another critical change relates to the exchange of briefs before the first hearing. New legislation requires a triple exchange of briefs before the first hearing to ensure it runs smoothly. While this may delay direct contact with the judge, it is believed that this will ultimately lead to more efficient hearings. The exchange of briefs was already part of the previous legal process but took place after the first hearing. This change is expected to reduce the amount of time and resources needed for hearings.
Additionally, Article 127ter came into force on 1 January 2023. This new provision allows for hearings, even if previously scheduled, to be replaced by written submissions that contain arguments and conclusions if the presence of witnesses is not required. Parties can choose to put forward written submissions instead of attending physical or remote hearings, which saves time and enables a quicker disposal of cases, so long as the presence of witnesses is unnecessary.
The new legislation also introduced a simplified procedure to be used when a case’s facts are not in dispute, if the claim is based on easily obtainable evidence or only requires a straightforward investigation. This aims to reduce time and costs involved in litigation.
The Italian justice system’s reforms aim to modernise and streamline its civil procedure for a more efficient and expeditious process. The digitisation of court hearings, the triple exchange of briefs before the first hearing and the introduction of a simplified procedure aim to reduce the current backlog and improve access to justice. While the implementation of these changes may pose some challenges to those involved in IP litigation, it is hoped that they will ultimately lead to a more accessible, efficient and expeditious judicial system.
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