Our Italian lawyers are often appointed by foreign Courts as expert witnesses on Italian law (substantive law, procedure, and law of privileges).
We have one of the biggest teams of English-speaking Italian solicitors and attorneys with considerable experience of providing general Italian law advice and expert evidence.
We act as expert witness on contractual disputes, family law cases and personal injury claims where Italian rules are applicable as well as on Italian proceeding rules.
Our Italian law team's recent cases in 2014 include:
- Alessandro Gravante, Partner in the Italian Litigation team, has been appointed to provide evidence on the applications of the Italian civil code and, in particular, art. 1385 and the “time of essence” doctrine in relation to the purchase of several holiday homes in Italy
- Piero Mastrosimone, Head of our Italian Insurance and Personal Injury Team, is frequently asked to provide Italian legal advice in the form of an expert report on Italian law in the context of English proceedings related to accidents or holiday incidents in Italy
- Helen Teffere, Senior Associate in the Private Client Office in Rome, is routinely instructed by English firms to provide probate advice in respect of assets in Italy in the context of an English probate
The prevailing idea under the common law in England and in the United States has been that foreign law is a fact and must be proved as a fact. Since the only "law" applied by a court is domestic law, every other element in the case must be a fact. Foreign law, therefore, more or less by definition being thrust into the category of facts, must be proved as facts are proved, under the traditional rules of evidence.
Although the court can reasonably be expected to know the law of its own forum, it is unreasonable and impractical to presume its knowledge of the laws of other jurisdictions and therefore, the foreign law and its scope and application must be proved as facts are proved, by appropriate evidence: hence the rule that foreign law must be proved as a fact.
A wide range of materials can be used to prove foreign law but often the most efficient way to prove it is through an expert witness, who can render declarations, depositions, or live testimony.
An expert witness is an expert who makes his knowledge and experience available to a court to help it understand the issues of a case and thereby reach a sound and just decision.
The EU has established a set of binding rules of private international law for contractual and non-contractual obligations in civil and commercial matters.
European Council Regulations “Rome I - EU regulation on the law applicable to contractual obligations” and “Rome II - EU regulation on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations” provide that, under certain circumstances, a court or tribunal of an EU country can be requested to apply a foreign law to a civil case pending in its jurisdiction.
Even outside the EU, international private law, in some cases, requires the application of a foreign law. In the United States, the courts adopted the fact theory established in England: foreign law must be pleaded and proved by the party who has the affirmative of the issues on the merits.
For more information about our Italian law expert witness services, please contact:
- Alessandro Gravante, Italian Litigation Partner