European Journal of Law Reform

Article

Codification in a Civil Law Jurisdiction: An Italian Perspective

Keywords civil law jurisdictions, codification, consolidation, legislative drafting, judicial review
Authors Enrico Albanesi
Author's information

314557 Enrico Albanesi
Lecturer in Constitutional Law at the University of Genoa (Italy) and Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), University of London. Co-leader of the IALS Law Reform Project.
  • Abstract

      The aim of this article is to describe the mechanism of codification in a civil law jurisdiction. The case study will be based on the Italian system. The history and developments of the Italian codification will also be described here.
      In Italy codification is called riassetto, it is normally carried out by the government but the changes to existing law must be within the strict boundaries of the principles and criteria set out by the parliament. By contrast, the mechanism to amalgamate existing texts dealing with a single topic without radical changes is called consolidamento. It is carried out by the government as delegated by parliament. However, as the tools to carry out riassetto and consolidamento are the same (decreto legislativo: a decree issued by the government, which is delegated by the parliament), it is not always easy to understand when the government is allowed to carry out consolidamento only or riassetto too. Actually, how fundamentally the government is allowed to change existing legislation depends on what the principles and criteria of the enabling Act of Parliament allows.
      A decreto legislativo that is not in compliance with the principles and criteria established by the Act of Parliament, could be declared void by the Corte costituzionale (the Italian Constitutional Court). Therefore, if the government exceeds the boundaries of consolidamento or riassetto, the decreto legislativo could be declared void.
      This essay will also focus on the different drafting techniques of consolidamento and riassetto from a theoretical perspective and from the point of view of the jurisprudence of the Consiglio di Stato and the Corte costituzionale. Finally, it will look at the drafting process for codes in Italy, underlying the differences with systems where law reform agencies have been established.

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