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Italian procedural law: res judicata effect of an unopposed injunction decree

Italian procedural law: res judicata effect of an unopposed injunction decree

Ruling on a German-Italian legal dispute, the Court of Cassation - in its Order No. 8937/2024 - confirmed that an unopposed injunction decree acquires the force of res judicata not only for the claim asserted but also for the title underlying it.

In the case at hand, a German company had claimed damages for a supply of damaged meat by an Italian company. The Italian company had previously applied for and obtained an unopposed injunction to enforce its payment claims arising from the goods supplied.

In the first instance, the Court of Reggio Emilia had ordered the Italian company to pay damages, a decision upheld by the Court of Appeal of Bologna, which did not consider that the judgement resulting from the unopposed injunction extended to the German company's claims for damages.

The Court of Cassation, hearing the matter, upheld the appeal, stating that the res judicata of the unopposed injunction precludes further examination of the issues not deduced but logically implied. According to the Court of Cassation, the res judicata arising from the non-opposition of the injunction ordering the German company to pay the price of the goods precludes a new examination of all possible issues (including the objection of non-performance on account of defects in the goods sold) which, although not raised by the opponent, constitute essential and necessary logical precedents of the judgment that has become final. In conclusion, the unopposed injunction therefore implicitly established the seller's exact performance and the absence of defects in the thing.

This decision will come as a surprise to German lawyers, as substantive res judicata under the German Code of Civil Procedure covers the claim made, but not the underlying legal grounds and any preliminary issues (unless clarified by way of an interlocutory action for a declaratory judgement).