Italy’s Lawyers Plan Strike Over New Mediation Law

An Italian Legislative Decree requiring mandatory pre-trial mediation of civil and commercial cases comes into effect on March 21, 2011. The decree is part of an initiative to reduce the overload on the country’s legal system, which, according to a recent World Bank Report, ranks 157th for enforcing contracts.

The response of Italy’s national lawyers union (Organismo Unitario dell’Avvocatura) has been to call for a national strike from March 16 to March 21, 2011.  Lawyers across the country are being asked to abstain from attending hearings in any civil, criminal, tax, or administrative proceedings, and to send clients letters urging them to sign a firm letter protesting the new law, and demanding changes that include eliminating the mandatory requirement to attempt mediation before accessing civil proceedings.

While the Italian strike may be representative of lawyers’ hostility towards mediation, the reaction demonstrates that mediation is not being ignored. On the contrary, the uptake of mediation in many countries appears to be increasing, such that it would be perceived as a threat to those with a stake in judicial inefficiencies.

Indeed, any lawyer who adheres to the strike will likely delay their client’s proceedings via an automatic postponement of several months. Thus, the proposed strike is – ironically – a vibrant illustration of the need for mediation in Italy.

Italy’s Lawyers call for National Strike against Mediation Law – Michael McIlrath, Senior Counsel, Litigation, for the GE Oil & Gas division in Florence, Italy and IMI Chair 2009, blogs on this development from the users’ point of view at: http://www.karlbayer.com/blog/?p=12882?

Mandatory Mediation in Italy
Wall Street Journal Law Blog
http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2011/03/14/mandatory-mediation-in-italy-not-if-the-lawyers-have-any-say/

Italian Lawyers to Strike
American Lawyer Magazine
http://www.law.com/jsp/tal/digestTAL.jsp?id=1202485791030&slreturn=1

Explosion or Bust? Italy’s New Mediation Model Targets Backlogs to ‘Eliminate’ One Million Disputes, Annually
Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation (newsletter), CPR Institute
http://www.herbertsmith.com/NR/rdonlyres/FEB319A6-527E-4A6C-A926-2781A62B326A/0/ALT28_04forweb418.pdf

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