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Italy International Trade in Legal Services

Italy International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector

Royal Decree of 22 January 1934, no.3 and Royal Decree of 27 November 1933, no. 1578 on the organization of the legal profession as amended by decrees  of 24 February 1997, 13 September 1999, 21 May 2003 (enacted into law 18 July 2003).

Under what title do lawyers practise?


How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?



In order to become a lawyer in Italy, the candidate must be a member of an Italian bar association. Membership of an Italian bar associations requires 1) completion of an undergraduate law degree (Laurea in Scienze Giuridiche, three years) and a graduate law degree (Laurea Specialistica in Giurisprudenza (a two year programme which confers the title of Dottore Magistrale in Giurisprudenza), or a five year masters degree (Laurea a ciclo unico Magistrale in Giurisprudenza)); 2) the completion of an 18 month training period; 3) Passing the professional examination. Supreme Court lawyers must in addition have completed 12 years of continuous professional experience as an Avvocato or completed 5 years of continuous professional experience and passed a special State examination.

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

The licence to practise in Italy is national but registration is carried out locally.



Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?

Italian lawyers have the right to provide representation, assistance and defence of different actors within the judicial processes. Supreme Court lawyers have exclusive right to undertake representation before special courts, i.e. Court of Cassation, Council of State, Court of Audit, Military Tribunal, Supreme Tribunal for Public Waters.

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?


What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

Italian lawyers may work as sole practitioners, in partnerships and in various forms that permit cooperation with other professions.

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 

The Consiglio Nazionale Forense has set out the Ethical Code for Lawyers in italy.

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

Law firms do not require separate licences to practise in Italy.


Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

Licences are issued by local bar councils but a national register is maintained by the Consiglio Nazionale Forense (http://www.consiglionazionaleforense.it)



Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

A non-EEA national who wishes to work in Italy on the basis of his or her professional legal qualification must apply to the Ministry of Justice for approval before applying for a business visa (Articles 39-49 DPR 394/1999)

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

Italy is one of the 25 countries in Europe that has signed the Schengen agreement. This allows a non-EEA national to obtain a visa to enter one or more of the Schengen countries for business or tourism purposes on a single visit of up to 90 days, or to make multiple entries to the Schengen area on any number of occasions over a 180 day period, provided none of these is for longer than 90 days.  A number of non-EEA countries are exempt from visa requirements.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

Foreign lawyers may practise in Italy under their home country title in the law of their home country or public international law.  EEA lawyers may establish under their home title and additionally practise local law in association with a Italian lawyer.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

An EEA lawyer must register with the appropriate local bar, practise under his home title, comply with the Italian code of conduct and must maintain adequate professional indemnity insurance.  In addition, the lawyer must obtain a resident's permit from the local police authority.  (Law DPR 31 August 1999 Nr. 394)

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

There are no prior conditions for foreign lawyers. An EEA lawyer must hold EEA nationality and an EEA legal qualification.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? Arbitration in Italy is governed by the Civil Procedure Code and there is no explicit international arbitration regime. However, nothing prevents foreign lawyers from participating in the conduct of arbitrations in Italy.
Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

European Union/EFTA and Swiss lawyers may all appear in court provided they do so in association with a local lawyer. Other nationals are not permitted to appear in court. 

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?



EU lawyers  may fully requalify as Italian lawyers following the European Establishment Directive 98/5/EC, either by examination or by assimilation over a three year period of continuous and effective practice in Italy. Non-EEA nationals must sit the full Bar exam before a special Commission of the Italian National Bar Council. There is a reduced examination for those who have passed examinations in Italian universities or have practised the legal profession in Italy for a significant period; for those who have an Italian law degree, requalification only requires a very reduced examination on Italian ethical and professional rules.  The recognition of professional qualifications obtained in non-EU countries takes place in accordance with the combined provisions of Articles 37 D. Decree 25/07/98 n. 286 and 39 and 49 of Presidential Decree 394 of 31 August 1999 on the basis of which the registration is admitted to the Bar.


Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

There is no separate law firm licensing regime for foreign law firms. Those US law firms that are established in Italy have done so through their London LLPs.

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

A foreign law firm would need to complete the same registration formalities as any other foreign business establishing (e.g. execute a public deed of incorporation and company bylaws before a public notary; pay registration tax, register the company and inform the local Labour office).
Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)


Is there a quota on the number of licences available?


Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have?


Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they? There are no scope of practice rules that apply to firms as opposed to individual lawyers.
Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? Foreign (European) law firms are subject to the same rules as local firms.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? The Establishment Directive (98/5/EC) makes it clear that EU law firms may use the name of their law firm they use in their home country. The host Member State may require that, in addition mention is made of the legal form of the grouping in the home Member State and/or of the names of any members of the grouping practising in the host Member State.
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL Law firms from EEA jurisdictions must register with each local bar in the districts where they have offices.


Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?

There are no restrictions on the ownership share of EEA lawyers in an Italian law firm.

May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?

There is no prohibition on employment of an Italian lawyer by an EEA lawyer or law firm provided that the independence of that lawyer is protected.

Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?

An Italian lawyer may enter a partnership with an EEA lawyer

Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?

Yes but only under their home title.



Other useful sources or comments or links

Consiglio Nazionale Forense   http://www.consiglionazionaleforense.it/