The new Italian Law on Market and Competition (L. n. 124/2017) was finally approved on 04.08.2017, following a long and complex procedure and negotiation in Parliament. The new provisions implemented, among the others, the regulations governing law-related professions (lawyer and notary public), insurance companies, public transports, pharmacies, and energy distribution. This article will thus focus on the main innovations introduced.

Lawyers

The new competition law has introduced the possibility, for lawyers, to exercise the profession in corporate form, and in particular through “partnerships, corporations or cooperative companies, registered in a special section of the professional registry competent for the place where the company is based”.

However, in such companies, 2/3 of the share capital must be held by attorneys at law, registered by the competent professional body. Should, in the course of company, this condition not be anymore fulfilled, the company would be terminated ex lege; moreover, should a lawyer-shareholder be cancelled from the professional registry or ejected by its professional body, it should also be ruled out from the corporation.

Lawyers must have a central role in corporate governance. Indeed, they should be the majority in the governing body and only shareholders may be nominated administrators.

When the profession of lawyer is exercised in corporate form, the professional assignment must be performed only by registered lawyers, who fulfill all the related subjective and objective requirements and guarantee, for the duration of the appointment, their full independence and impartiality. Lawyers should also make the client aware of actual or potential conflicts of interest or incompatibilities.

Law firms must fulfill the requirements set by the code of conduct for lawyers, and are subject to the disciplinary power of the competent professional body.

Notary publics

As for notary publics, the number of professionals will increase from one per 7.000 inhabitants to one per 5.000 inhabitants.

Notaries are now allowed to exercise their professional functions within a broader area, as they can move – by reason of their professional duties – to any place within the region where they are based, or within the district of the Appeal Court where they are based, if such a district includes more than one region.

Pursuant to the new policy, notary publics must transfer to dedicated bank accounts, which remains separated by the personal funds of the notary, the amounts set by article 1, number 63, of the Law no. 147/2013 (in general, the sums received by clients for the taxes to be paid in relation with the acts involved, or every amount of money that the notary public has duty to receive in custody on behalf of the client).

Moreover, in accordance with the new policy, notary publics are allowed to advertise their professional services under the same regulations applicable to other professional bodies (D.P.R. 137/2012).

Insurance companies

Many innovations are introduced with respect to insurance companies.

Among them, a discount on motor third party liability policies is foreseen for those who will install “black boxes” on their vehicles (e.g., a tool capable of preventing administrative frauds, which were frequent in the past).

The insured person involved in a traffic collision may claim the full reimbursement of the damages suffered as consequence of the accident by discretionally choosing an automotive workshop, which should nevertheless provide all the fiscal documents and a suitable guarantee on the repaired components for the period of at least two years.

In order to prevent the frauds consisting in false witness statements relating to traffic collisions, the procedure of identification of witnesses (with respect to accidents only involving damages to vehicles or things) has been modified. In such a case, witnesses are audited during the judicial proceedings for the claim of compensation for damages only provided that they were (1) mentioned in the advice of claim; or (2) mentioned on the first formal act of the injured party towards the insurance company, or – should such act be lacking – (3) if there is formal request from the insurance company, with express notice to the insured person of the procedural consequences of its failure to respond. The judge will also inform the competent procurators’ office should a witness be audited for more than three accidents within a period of five years.

An important innovation is introduced with respect to the compensation for non-material harms. The related damages, in fact, will now be liquidated on the basis of fixed parameters, valid within the entire Italian territory. Judges are only entitled to increase the amount of compensation foreseen by such parameters by no more than 30%, and only provided that the ascertained disablement is ascertained and also potentially able to considerably affect specific dynamic and interpersonal aspects of the injured person.

Energy

Starting July 2019, customers will not anymore be allowed to opt for the controlled-price regime of energy. In fact, whereas nowadays customers may choose to pay the energy on the basis of the fares set by the Public Authority for Energy, starting from that date customers will have to choose a private energy provider, which will freely determinate the tariffs.

In order to better coordinate the favour policies for economically disadvantaged residential customers –and for residential customers who has to connect medical devices electronically powered and necessary for the treatment of diseases – the new law empowers the Minister for Economic Development to issue a decree regulating the benefits to be applied in these circumstances.

Transportation

The new competition law entitled the government to issue a legislative decree for the revision of the regulations governing non scheduled public transportations, including UBER and NCC.

Among the principles and directives that the decree should respect, it is mentioned the guarantee for every citizen to enjoy the right to mobility, and that  such form of transportation should assume a complementary and integrative role than public line transports (by sea, by rail, by car, by plane).

The offer of services in the field of transportation should be adapted to the new forms of mobility which use APPs and other technological platforms to connect passengers to drivers.

At the same time, the law foresees the necessity to reform the sanction system for administrative violations, thus applying effective, dissuasive and proportioned fines also in order to contrast unauthorized operations.

Pharmacies

Pharmacies may now be held by corporations, who will not be anymore subject to the former limit of four business licenses per company. However, these companies can only control, directly or indirectly, no more than 20% of the pharmacies located in the territory of the same region (or autonomous province).

“C-brand” drugs (e.g. those requiring medical prescription) can still only be sold in licensed pharmacies.

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