Giacomo Oberto









Table of Contents: 1. A Short Description of the “Strasbourg Programme” and of the “Decalogue” for Dealing with Civil Cases. – 2. Rules of the “Decalogue” in comparison with “Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management:” the Issue of Active Case Management. – 3. Rules of the “Decalogue” in comparison with “Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management:” How to Adjust Time Management to General and Specific Targets. – 4. Rules of the “Decalogue” in comparison with Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management: the Issue of Timing Agreements with Parties and Lawyers. – 5. Rules of the “Decalogue” in comparison with Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management: the Issue of Co-operation and Monitoring of Other Actors (Experts, Witnesses, etc.). – 6. Rules of the “Decalogue” in comparison with Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management: the Issue of Suppression of Procedural Abuses. – 7.  Reasoning of Court Decisions.


1. A Short Description of the “Strasbourg Programme” and of the “Decalogue” for Dealing with Civil Cases.


The “Strasbourg Programme” is the first experiment of case management tested in Italy, aiming at obtaining a significant reduction of judicial backlogs and the acceleration of the treatment of civil cases. The initiative was born in the year 2001 from an idea of the then President of the (First Instance) Court of Turin, Mr. Mario Barbuto (currently President of the local Court of Appeals) and continued during these last ten years first by Mr. Barbuto and since the end of 2009 by the new President, Mr. Luciano Panzani.

The Programme was started first of all through a monitoring activity of the whole backlog. Then the President drafted a circular letter containing several provisions and suggestions for Judges (the so-called “Decalogue”), with the aim of reaching the goal of a relevant shortening of judicial timeframes.

Starting from the assumption that proceedings lasting for longer than three years could be considered as in violation of the “reasonable time” requirement of Article 6 of the European Convention on Humans Rights, in the light of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, the Presidency of the Court of Turin activated since 2001 a periodical census–to be renewed every six months–of all cases pending before said Court. Following this survey, all cases had to be classified according to the period of time they had been lasting (cases pending for longer than one year, for longer than two years, three years, and so on).

According to that first census, ordinary cases lasting for longer than three years in all civil sections of Turin central seat of the Court amounted to 2.354 at the date of April 30, 2001 (52 of them went back to a period of time previous to 1990). At the same time the President announced the diffusion of a “Decalogue” for the quick and targeted treatment of old cases. Document files of cases lasting for longer of three years were also marked with a special tag on their cover, in order to allow Judges to easily recognize them.

Just to give an idea about the success of the initiative I can quote the results of the last edition (the 17th of this kind) of the report, drafted by the President in the framework of the “Strasbourg Programme” in December 2010. According to this last survey, out of 22.268 cases pending before the central seat of the Turin First Instance Court, 21.418 cases were pending for no longer than three years (15.325 for one year, 4.264 for two years, 1.829 for three years), while only 850 for longer than three years.

The “Decalogue,” in the form of circular letter containing several recommendations addressed to all civil judges (for example the prohibition of adjourning hearings, when not specifically justified or allowed by the law) will be described in a more detailed way further on. Its aim is that of trying to ensure a uniform practice in all civil sections of the Court, while strictly respecting autonomy and independence of each and any Judge. This document was also forwarded to the local Bar, on one hand, in order to obtain the endorsement of an institutional body strongly concerned with the course of civil justice, but on the other hand also with the aim to prevent that parties in concerned cases could interpret the new course as a sort of vexation against them, or as an unexpected and episodical initiative of only some Judges.

It is worth saying that the “Decalogue”, although conceived some years before the adoption of Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management, addresses in many parts of it issues which we can find in this document of CEPEJ (I am specially referring here to its “Part V – Guidelines for Judges”). Moreover, the very “spirit” of the “Decalogue,” along with many of the proposed solutions, seems to be in full harmony with aims, purposes and approaches of the “Saturn Guidelines,” so that we could even define it as a sort of “Saturn Guidelines” ante litteram.

As I have already explained in a former report, as far as overall foreseeability of the length of proceedings is concerned, the initiative of the President of regularly spreading general statistical and other data on the length of proceedings, section by section, can very much helpful in this respect. Also the spreading of statistical evidence reporting the “productivity” rate of each and every judge fosters a sort of competition which helps avoiding backlogs of the size which had to be reported in the past.

It is true that, according to what stated by Point B. 3. of “Saturn Guidelines,” “The time management of judicial proceedings, if not determined by the behaviour of the users themselves, should be made in an impartial and objective manner, avoiding significant differences with regard to timing of similar cases.” Problem is that, at least in Italy, a significant role in the case management is played by the lawyers. Therefore it is important to involve Bars in the process of reduction of judicial delays.

Actually it may happen that very similar cases have very different lengths, simply because the lawyers tried to make use in some cases of procedural tactics and “tricks” which may result in a waste of time. Of course it is also up to the judge to be vigilant and to discourage such practices. For instance, it may happen that adjournments are required by lawyers, who assure they are going to settle the case, and they need time to do it. Here it is up to the judge not to be too “generous” and to monitor closely the seriousness of this prospective settlement, as well as the honesty and truthfulness of the intentions of the lawyers and of the parties who are involved in the case.

Having said this, I will submit here some comparative tables, reporting in the left side of them the relevant provisions of the Turin Court “Decalogue” (or at least the sense of them, or a short summary), while putting in the right side the equivalent Articles and Paragraphs of the “Saturn Guidelines.” Chapters of this report will be organized along the lines of the different Articles of “Part V. Guidelines for Judges” of “Saturn Guidelines.” After each and any set of provisions I will also join my commentaries. Let me point out as well that the version of the “Decalogue” which is here taken into account is the very last of it, as approved by the President with his circular letter of 30th December 2008, No. 9. Its correct title is “Prescriptions and Suggestions on Dealing with Civil Cases” and it encompasses at present twenty separate Articles. In May 2011 this document has been extended by a Circular Letter of the President of the Turin Court of Appeal to all first instance Courts of the District of Piedmont.



2. Rules of the “Decalogue” in comparison with “Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management:” the Issue of Active Case Management.


Turin Court “Decalogue”

“Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management –

Part V. Guidelines for Judges”

Article 4)

Judges are invited to constantly make use of Article 175 of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure (C.P.C.), according to which “Judges dealing with civil cases should use all powers aiming at a quicker and loyal carrying out of the proceedings.”

They should as well take into account Art. 127 C.P.C., prescribing that “… Judge directing hearings can take all appropriate actions, prescribing what is needed in order to ensure that cases are dealt with in an orderly and useful way. He/she provides rules for the discussion of cases, setting the points to be debated and closes the discussions, when he/she thinks it appropriate.”

During the first hearing of a case, the Judge should try to convince lawyers not to make use of the law provisions allowing them to get adjournments and deadlines for deposing additional petitions (which slows down the regular course of the proceedings: unfortunately lawyers almost never give up to such a right, accorded to them by Article 183 C.P.C.).

Judges should try to avoid drafting minutes of hearings in too lengthy a way. They should on the contrary just sum up what lawyers are asking.

Final petitions, submitted by lawyers when the judge is about to decide the case, should be as clear and concise as possible.

Judges should as well try not to concentrate too many hearings at the same time, but should fix them at different times of the day, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.



Judges should make use of the powers of Article 210 C.P.C. (“Order to parties of the case or to third parties to provide evidence”) only when it is clear what are the documents or the objects to be shown, in order to take evidence; it should also be clear that one of the parties of a third person actually have such documents or objects. Interim decisions concerning such aspects should always clearly identify what documents and/or objects should be shown before the judge (all too often lawyers simply ask the Judge for an order to show “all commercial documents” concerning a certain corporation, whereas they should list them one by one: e.g. specifying kind of documents–like invoices, and so on–and also mention the concerned period of time.


20) Conciliation attempt

Judges should often make use of the discretionary power to try to convince parties to friendly settle the case. In this framework he/she will also take note in the minutes of the proposals of both parties, even though the conciliation attempt fails.


Other relevant provisions in this field are those of Articles 10 and 11 (see further, Paragraph No. 6).

A. Active case management

1. The judge should have sufficient powers to actively manage the proceedings.



That “The judge should have sufficient powers to actively manage the proceedings” is self-evident. However, directives and instructions issued by the Head of the Court could help the judges to “find the strength,” taking into account the current state of aggressiveness of Italian lawyers, to play a pro-active role. Of course this should always be done within the frames of procedural rules, which in my country do not, unfortunately, leave wide discretionary powers to the Judge.

In this framework I would particularly point out that the Judge has little or inexistent power to fix a “quick start” of the case, taking into account rules set forth by the Italian Code of Civil Procedure. Actually, according to Article  163-bis, between the day in which summoning act has been served to the defendant and the day of the first hearing before the Judge, at least ninety days must elapse (in case the summon act has been served in a foreign country that period of time is of hundred and fifty days). If one thinks that, at the first hearing, parties have the right to get another adjournment of at least eighty days for “fine-tuning” their petitions and pretensions (and it is enough that just one of them asks for it, without any power for the judge to deny the adjournment) it becomes clear that, after the service of a summoning on a certain day (a day which, among other things, concretely and procedurally marks the official start and beginning of the case), in the “quickest” imaginable solution, the Judge can practically start dealing with the case not sooner than six months after this event. This means that the Judge can start playing a pro-active role only after that (at least!) a good half of the first of the two (or three, according to our Strasbourg Programme) years of the “reasonable timeframe” has already elapsed.



3. Rules of the “Decalogue” in comparison with “Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management:” How to Adjust Time Management to General and Specific Targets.


Turin Court “Decalogue”

“Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management –

Part V. Guidelines for Judges”

Article 1)

All civil cases pending for longer than two and half years before the Court should be marked with a particular tag of different colour, according to the fact that they have been pending for:

a)   longer than six years;

b)  between six and two and a half years;

c)   two and an half years.


Judges should give priority to all above mentioned cases.


Article 2)

Judges should ensure to adjudicate cases mentioned in Article 1) according to the following programme:

- for cases of the a) group: no later than … (six months);

- for cases of the b) and c) group: no later than … (one year).

All other cases should be finally adjudicated no later than three years from the day they have started.

A. Active case management


2. Subject to general rules, the judge should be authorized to set appropriate time limits and adjust the time management to the general and specific targets as well as to the particulars of each individual case.



As far as this point is concerned, let me stress again that rules issued by the Head of the Court should, as it happened in the Turin case, set priorities among different cases, like e.g.: reducing maximum length to no more than three years; giving priority to cases exceeding that deadline or dangerously approaching to it, etc. I understand that rules of the “Saturn Guidelines” are referred to deadlines imposed by the Judge to parties (rather than by President to Judges), but the Italian Code of Civil Procedure leaves little judicial discretion in this field. I would like to underline again that, for example, adjournments on the basis of Article 183 of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure cannot be avoided, if at least one of the parties requires them, even in cases where it is absolutely clear that they are useless and that lawyers just need them in order to “add” such adjournments (as well as the petitions they wrote for each and any of them) on the their final check for the liquidation of their fees and honoraries. However, rules set by the President of the Court about time limits in a framework such as that of the “Strasbourg Programme” can also help the Judge to try to convince parties to avoid unnecessary requests and to try to “adjust their pace,” in order to meet the requirements of a quicker procedure.



4. Rules of the “Decalogue” in comparison with Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management: the Issue of Timing Agreements with Parties and Lawyers.


Turin Court “Decalogue”

“Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management –

Part V. Guidelines for Judges”

Article 6)

Adjournments should never exceed 40/50 days. Judges should ensure that cases lasting for longer than two and a half years get a priority treatment.


B. Timing agreement with the parties and lawyers

1. In the time management of the process, due regard should be given to the interests of the users. They have the right to be involved in the planning of the process at an early stage.

2. Where possible, the judge should attempt to reach agreement with all participants in the procedure regarding the procedural calendar. For this purpose, he should also be assisted by appropriate court personnel (clerks) and information technology.

3. The deviations from the agreed calendar should be minimal and restricted to justified cases. In principle, the extension of the set time limits should be possible only with the agreement of all parties, or if the interests of justice so require.



The issue of timing agreement with the parties and lawyers is now dealt with at a general level by a special provision of our Code of Civil Procedure. Actually recent reforms have brought about the need, for each judge, at the start of each proceedings, to draw a calendar of the process, in which the judge, taking into account lawyers’ opinions, “foresees” and “predicts” when each and any of the steps of the process will take place. Moreover, according to the guidelines issued by the President, each judge has to try to help parties to friendly settle the case. During such hearings judges prospect to the parties the advantages brought about by a settlement, also envisaging what could be the path to be followed by the case (of course no hint should be given on the merit of the case, but the judge can very well say, for instance, that if the case goes on, he/she will need to appoint an expert to answer this or that question, etc.).

Some months ago, when we first tried to concretely implement provisions concerning the calendar of the procedure, we discovered that it was not so easy as it could have appeared at a first glance. It is almost impossible to foresee one or two years in advance what the course of the case will be and to fix a certain day for each and possible procedural event. Therefore I suggested a solution which was concretely adopted by many colleagues, consisting in fixing not exact days, but exact deadlines, such as e.g.: a) deadline for the accomplishment of the hearings for questioning witnesses: no later than 30 June 2011; b) deadline for the accomplishment of an expertise (in case this would show as relevant): no later than 31 December 2011; c) deadline for the last hearing where parties summon their final requests and petitions before the Judge adjudicates the case: no later than 30 June 2012.

As far as above mentioned Point 2. of Saturn Guidelines is concerned, of course I fully agree with the principle that the Judge should also be assisted by appropriate Court personnel (clerks) and information technology. Unfortunately in my Court (as well as in almost any Court of Italy) only the second part of that sentence is true. Staff is absolutely lacking and too often IT is used as a way to have Judges perform (in addition to their regular duties) the tasks of clerks and secretaries.

Let me add on this point that in these very last months, thanks to the initiative of our Court’s President Luciano Panzani an agreement with the local Law Faculty is going to be signed in the next weeks. According to this agreement a certain number of selected and qualified law students and young law graduated will be admitted as trainees in our Court for periods of some months. We will take advantage of this training initiative, on one side, to have a number of young people better trained and prepared to face the very hard competitive examination to become Judge (of course, provided they will; otherwise they will address themselves to the legal profession, however with a much higher degree of awareness about the functioning of the “judicial machinery” and of the real needs of a quicker and more efficient justice). On the other side these people will provide a “helping hand” to the day-to-day work of Judges and clerical staff, helping Judges to draw minutes of hearings, to perform legal research activity, to put in order papers, petitions, acts and documents (very often hundreds of pages!) within each and any file, to single out particular questions and difficulties arising from cases, to fine-tuning the ongoing process of using IT for case management and the electronic management of procedures, to check that orders given by the judge to clerks are properly enforced, that lawyers and/or parties and/or experts have actually been informed about decisions to summon them for a certain hearing, etc.



5. Rules of the “Decalogue” in comparison with Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management: the Issue of Co-operation and Monitoring of Other Actors (Experts, Witnesses, etc.).


Turin Court “Decalogue”

“Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management –

Part V. Guidelines for Judges”

Article 14)

Judges should periodically and systematically check all cases in which they are waiting for an expert to draw and submit an expertise, in order to ensure that deadlines for the submissions of such expertises are met.

Deadlines for the submission of expertises should not exceed 40/50 days. In case of not compliance Judges should replace the expert with another one. Prorogations of such deadlines should be awarded only in exceptional cases and upon motivated requests (e.g. because parties, under the assistance of the expert, are trying to reach a friendly settlement of the dispute).

Judges should always empower experts to try to find an amicable solution of the case.

Among the vast number of experts available, judges should prefer those who have proved to be able to help parties to find a friendly a friendly settlement.

Before appointing an expert, Judges should invite parties to submit suggestions on the questions to be asked. 

C. Co-operation and monitoring of other actors (experts, witnesses etc.)

1. All participants in the process have the duty to co-operate with the court in the observance of set targets and time limits.

2. In the process, the judge has right to monitor the observance of time limits by all participants, in particular those invited or engaged by the court, such as witnesses or experts.

3. Adequate and efficient means have to be available against those players that do not fully co-operate in the observance of the set targets and time limits. They may include reduction of fees, striking from the list of experts, fines and other sanctions.




Guidelines issued by Heads of Courts should (as it is the case for the Court of Turin) focus on the need for the judges to closely monitor the respect of deadlines by experts. It happens very often that experts, simply because they have maybe too many assignments (and are not accustomed to workloads and working times of judges…), tend to apply for an adjournment of the deadline originally set by the judge for the delivery of the expertise. Judges should take care that such adjournments are given only when strictly necessary (e.g. because parties are discussing, under the control and with the assistance of the expert, for reaching a friendly settlement of the case). As far as witnesses and parties are concerned, judges should dispose of much more effective powers in order to oblige them to attend the hearing. But, once again, it is up to the Legislators to change current laws.

Actually a little improvement has been brought about by a recent reform, according to which the expert appointed by the judge, before submitting his/her report, has to present it to the parties, who have a deadline to send him/her their remarks. Finally the expert has to submit to the judge his/her expertise, together with the parties’ remarks and his/her final comments on the parties’ remarks. According to this procedure, lawyers will be no longer allowed to ask for further adjournments for commenting the expertise. No further hearing will be necessary, unless the Judge esteems that one or more points of the report need to be more thoroughly explained. So, once the expertise and the remarks have been included in the official file, the Judge can be ready to deliver his/her final decision.



6. Rules of the “Decalogue” in comparison with Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management: the Issue of Suppression of Procedural Abuses.


Turin Court “Decalogue”

“Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management –

Part V. Guidelines for Judges”

Article 4)

See above, Para. No. 2.


Articles 5) and 8)

No adjournments will be granted without a specific and acceptable reason. Reasons for the lawyers to ask for an adjournment (e.g.: parties are seriously dealing about a friendly settlement of the case) should be explicitly mentioned in the minutes of the hearing. Such minutes should as well state whether both parties agree on such request. In the hearing following the request lawyers should always clearly refer about the follow-up of the situation which originated the request for an adjournment (e.g. about the results of their attempts to find a friendly settlement of the case).


Article 10)

Judges should ensure that both parties comply with requirements of Article 244 of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure, concerning the way they should submit a request to the Judge for questioning witnesses.

In particular, Judges should avoid to order the questioning of witnesses if:

a) parties did not submit specific questions to be asked;

b) such questions do not concern specific facts, but involve judgements and subjective appreciations (to be possibly deferred to a Court’s expert);

c) the number of witnesses indicated by parties is too high and should be reduced by the judge;

d) questions to be asked to witnesses are irrelevant or can be answered through existing documents.

In case a party wants to hear witnesses about certain documents (e.g. invoices, estimates, etc.) the Judge should first ask the counterpart whether he/she admits that document has been drafted by that prospective witness. Only contested circumstances have to be proved by witnesses: this means that the Judge, whenever possible, will first ask what facts are denied and contested and will order to hear witnesses only on those facts which are contested.


Article 11)

As far as questioning of parties is concerned, judges should always try to convince lawyers not to ask for it, as this kind of procedural activity is always useless. In case lawyers insist on it, judges should avoid to record on minutes all remarks made by parties pro se, as such comments are already enshrined in lawyers’ acts and petitions. Replies should be recorded in the shortest possible way (e.g.: “Yes, it is true;” “No, it is not true.”)

D. Suppression of procedural abuses

1. All attempts to willingly and knowingly delay the proceedings should be discouraged.

2. There should be procedural sanctions for causing delay and vexatious behaviour. These sanctions can be applied either to the parties or their representatives.

3. If a member of a legal profession grossly abuses procedural rights or significantly delays the proceedings, it should be reported to the respective professional organisation for further consequences.


As far as formal questioning of parties is concerned, the Italian law does not extend the statute of witness to parties of a case. This means that parties have the right not to tell the truth. Questioning of parties could theoretically be useful in the only case they admit something against their interest, which actually almost never occurs. Such old rules had a sense in times when citizens were generally illiterate and uneducated and, being before a Judge, could easily be intimidated and admit the truth. Nowadays (especially taking into account the very little degree of respect for Judges, brought about by years and years of attacks and denigration on the Judiciary) no one feels embarrassed openly lying before a Judge, especially when their personal interests are stake.

This explains why I call this kind of remedy “The most useless procedural remedy in the world.” Unfortunately, the interest of lawyers is to stuff procedural dossiers with all possible kind of acts, documents, petitions and activities, because (as I have already explained) for each and any of such things they get fees.

This explains why a serious reform of the Italian civil procedure would inevitably require a deep change in the way legal fees are calculated. I have been many time advocating a system (as the German one, for instance), in which lawyers’ fees are not linked to the number of acts they write, nor to the number of hearings they attend. This would be a very good step forward, but once again this cannot be done by the judges. Critics of this position of mine (lawyers of course) misunderstood this proposal as an attempt to curtail their revenues. This is by no way the case. I am personally persuaded that lawyers’ fees should be much higher than they are nowadays. The issue is not “how much” lawyers get, but “for what purposes” and “in reward for what” they get what they get. So, if they work in a competent and effective way, with the final result to have brought before a Court only the cases that deserve to be brought before a Court, they should earn much more than they actually do.

As I already explained many times, also in this field much greater powers should be advocated for Judges and this issue has to be primarily dealt with by the Legislative Powers. I can personally witness that the vast majority of cases brought before me could be easily resolved without even going to the Court, on the basis of a little bit more good will from the parties and also of a little bit more knowledge of the law by concerned attorneys. The issue deals therefore with the delicate topic of legal training for all the actors of judicial proceedings and first of all for lawyers. A well trained lawyer can understand how risky or useless can be going to the Court for frivolous cases. Once the process has started it is very hard for the Judge to convince parties to find an amicable solution, because parties have already engaged expenses and lawyers know that the longer the proceeding is going to last, the more they will be earning.

Judges, on their part, should be more attentive to the need to find ways to “punish” incorrect behaviours by parties and lawyers. Currently our procedural rules give the judges some powers in this sense. First of all Article 117 of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure allow the Judge to take into account parties’ behaviour in order to adjudicate the case. Let me bring an example on this. It happens some times that a party (or his/her lawyer) does not co-operate with the expert appointed by the judge, not providing information the expert requires, or having the expert fix dates for inspecting a building, or a machine, etc. and then not attending on that occasion. Under such circumstances the Judge can take into account such facts and decide the case against the party who did not co-operate.

 A new version of Article 96 of the same Code provides for now that, even without a particular request on this point, the Judge can ex officio sentence the party losing his/her case to pay a sum of money (to be fixed by the Judge) to the other party, when the case or the defences of the losing party are frivolous. Older judges are much more linked to “lenient” practices of the past, but I have very much confidence in new generations of judges, who are much more ready to apply sanctions against disloyal parties and attorneys. Once again, specific guidelines on this topic by the Head of the Court could be of use in persuading “older” judges to take into account, when the case has to be adjudicated, of the behaviour of parties and lawyers.

It has also to be mentioned that the extension of the “Strasbourg Programme,” which had been operated in 2011 by the President of the Turin Court of Appeal to all the Courts of the Piedmont District, provides for that the Judge has to determine legal fees, as a general rule, in the amount which has been asked for by the process winning party. The Judge should as well make use of the provisions enshrined in the above mentioned amended version of Article 96 of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure, each time he/she deems the case is frivolous. This should be done also when the winning party cannot give evidence about the prejudice suffered, as frivolous litigation and procedural abuses should be fought against, as a source of indirect prejudice to the State’s budget for unduly lengthening judicial timeframes and of a direct prejudice to the other party for delaying the moment in which truth will be ascertained.



7.  Reasoning of Court Decisions.


Turin Court “Decalogue”

“Saturn Guidelines for Judicial Time Management –

Part V. Guidelines for Judges”

Article 3).

Judicial decisions have to be reasoned in a concise form, as provided for by Article 132, Second Paragraph, No. 4, of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure and by Article 118, Second Paragraph, of the Provisions for Implementation of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure. Only questions relevant for the decision of the case should be taken into account.

Judges should keep into account that the essence of reasoning is explaining the decision and not displaying erudition.

Judges should always comply with deadlines provided for by the law for deposit their decisions.

- - -


Italian legal tradition adopts a system for the reasoning of judgements which appears to be more suitable to long and detailed “treaties.” The advantage of this system is that lawyers may find in the reasoning answers to the issues and legal questions they raised during the case, as well as reasons and bases for filing an appeal. The disadvantage is that Judges, “frightened” by the need to thoroughly and at length explain reasons for a case, may be tempted to differ the moment of the judgement, thus hoping to persuade parties to abandon their disputes and to find a friendly settlement of the case, what unfortunately may not always happen.

So, one of the “bottlenecks” of Italian civil justice is the timeframe between the moment in which a case has been prepared by acquiring evidence and the moment in which it comes to a decision. This shows that one of the problems possibly causing judicial delays is brought about by the activity of reasoning in written the case.

Luckily a recent reform, affecting the two above-mentioned provisions of our Code of Civil Procedure, obliges nowadays judges to be more concise. But the weight of a tradition dating back centuries is still very strong. Therefore a recommendation like the one enshrined in above-mentioned Article 3) of the “Decalogue” appears to be most welcome.

Training on the drafting of judicial decisions could also be of some effect. An increased use of reference to judicial precedents, available in electronic format could as well be of use, in reproducing passages of former judgements, which the judge could deem applicable to the case he/she is dealing with. Lawyers could be invited to provide an electronic version of their acts, so that relevant passages of their remarks could be used for the reasoning of the judge, when he/she thinks this could be useful. The same is true for protocol of hearings with evidence (witnesses’ depositions, experts’ remarks, etc.).

In this framework a mention should be made also to the effort of reaching a sort of “standardisation” of the most common kinds of interim and provisional decisions. On this topic a working group is active in my Court and will report next month of May in Turin. Let me just add that an uniformisation and a standardisation of (at least) less relevant decisions fits with the European example. Actually a whole array of legal decisions in matters such as taking of evidence in foreign countries, European order for payment procedure, recognition and enforcement of judgments, etc., are taken (and have to be taken!) making use of forms available on the Internet, which are joined as an annex to different EU regulations.

A mention of this kind could as well be inserted in “Saturn Guidelines,” which apparently do not contain provisions of this kind.


Giacomo Oberto, Judge of the First Instance Court of Turin (Italy).

February 2011