The case. The lawyer and former Minister, P. C., duly served a writ of summons upon B.L. in order that the Court of Rome ascertain the defamatory nature of the two following statements made by the latter during a television program: You see, P. and Be. ….. are two people who in their own way are making fun of all Italians… One of them, as a former minister, has stated that he has stolen …. and Italy is a country in which a former minister has stated that he has committed a 100 billion tax fraud and nothing happens. P. C. Requested that B.L. be ordered to pay damages.
In first instance the action for damages was rejected, whereas, in second instance, the Court of Appeal granted the appeal lodged by the plaintiff and ordered the defendant to pay damages amounting to € 10,000.00.
The appeal judges held that “the well-known fact upon which the decision of the Court of first instance was based cannot be considered to make up for the absence of any evidence whatsoever provided by the plaintiff. The phrases used by the defendant objectively damaged P’s reputation since they were wholly gratuitous…”
The decision. The Supreme Court upheld, with judgment no. 5063/12, the decision taken by the Court of second instance, ruling that the recourse to well-known facts derogates from the principle that the parties must prove the facts adduced by them. It must be proven with indubitable and undisputed certainty that the public in general is well aware of such well-known facts (cfr. also Supreme Court judgment n. 23978/2007).
Returning to the case in hand, therefore, the Supreme Court judges held – reaffirming the principle that findings of fact have to be made by the trial judge (and such findings cannot be overturned by the Supreme Court) – that the well-known fact (and the related extenuating circumstance) adduced by the defendant had not been proven by the latter.”
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