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Italy

Author: Eleonora Rajneri/ Cristina Poncibò

IV. Legislative consultations and reform proposals

The Italian Parliament passed Law no. 27/2012 aimed at fostering the effectiveness of this regime. However, the amendments introduced by Law 27/2012 do not seem relevant in this regard.

The most significant amendments introduced by the 2012 reform relate to the extent of the protection and to the typology of rights that can be claimed through class action.

On the first point, the reform has amended article 140-bis so that class actions can now be filed not only to protect consumers' individual rights, but also for the defence of their collective interests. The reform has also clarified that claimants - besides seeking compensation for damage - can also ask the Court to assess and declare the defendant's liability.

On the second point, the reform provides that the rights actionable through class actions no longer need to be "identical" and it is now sufficient that they are "homogenous". Again, however, there is no clarification or guidance as to what is meant by homogenous rights. In this scenario, it is worth recalling a recent decision issued by the Court of Appeal of Rome (decision 27.01.2012) on a product-related damage class claim which had been declared non-admissible by the Court of Rome (decision 13.04.2011) on grounds, inter alia, that the enforceable rights were not identical. In particular, the Court of Rome found that the rights at stake (right to compensation for alleged damage to health) were materially diverse and would have required a specific and individual assessment for each claimant, in contrast with the ratio underlying this action. In confirming the non-admissibility decision, the Rome Court of Appeal pointed out that, even replacing the "identity of rights test" with the "homogeneity of right" test, the class would still be considered inadmissible due to the significant diversity in the position of each potential class member.

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