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Artìcle 2 of Law-Decree no. 1/2012 has introduced some important amendments to Legislative Decree no. 168 (which set up in 2003 the Specialized Industrial and Intellectual Property Sections),  re-naming them the Specialized Business Sections (whose jurisdiction has now been widened in the manner described below).

Apart from continuing to have jurisdiction over industrial property and copyright disputes, as well as over disputes concerning acts of unfair competition interfering with those industrial property rights identified by article 134 of the Italian Industrial Property Code (Legislative Decree no. 30/2005), the new specialized sections will now have jurisdiction over class actions pursuant to article 140-bis of Legislative Decree no. 206/2005, as well as over specific types of disputes concerning joint stock companies (società per azioni), share partnership companies (società in accomandita per azioni) and companies controlled by or controlling the latter.

The specialized sections will also have jurisdiction over disputes between shareholders and companies, between creditors of controlled companies and the companies that control them, over disputes arising out of shareholding transactions, as well as over disputes concerning shareholders’ agreements, and applications to set aside company officers’ resolutions and decisions (the specialized sections will, finally, also have jurisdiction over disputes concerning public works, services or supply contracts involving one of the aforementioned companies).

The aforementioned provisions – which shall apply to proceedings commenced from April 24, 2012 onwards – have also increased fourfold the stamp duty to be paid for proceedings over which the specialized business sections have jurisdiction.

Article 9 of the aforementioned Law-Decree, which has been in force since January 24, 2012 – has abolished the professional rates which have regulated up until now the amounts (legal fees, costs, expenses) due to lawyers both for judicial and non-judicial matters.

Specific ministerial decrees shall define the parameters which the courts shall apply in awarding legal fees, costs and expenses. In the event that such parameters are identified in the clause of an agreement executed between a lawyer and a single consumer and/or micro business, such contractual clause will be null and void and the legal fees, costs and expenses identified therein will not be due.

The aforementioned article has, moreover, introduced the obligation of lawyers to inform their clients (should the client so request, such information shall in writing) the amount due for the legal services to be provided to the latter.

The client will have to agree upon the amounts which are due to the lawyer (the lawyer will have to indicate each single item of cost, including the expenses, taxes and court fees that are due to him or her).

The lawyer will, moreover, make the client aware of the amounts due until the appointment ends and indicate the details of the insurance policy taken out by the former, failing which the lawyer shall be deemed to have committed a disciplinary breach.

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