In Italy, until now, an accused person who was then charged and eventually acquitted did not have the possibility to be reimbursed by the state for the costs of defence. A wrongfully prosecuted person suffers considerable material damage in addition to the psychological stress and damage to his or her image. A new law passed in December 2020 (Art. 177 bis Codice Penale) now partially remedies the situation. In the case of legally acquitted defendants, the state is obliged to reimburse the defendant up to a maximum amount of 10,500 euros of the costs upon presentation of the corresponding lawyer's bill. The payment will be made in 3 instalments.
However, at the time of going to press (8.6.2021), the implementing regulation was not yet available, so it is not possible to report on initial experiences with the law. Land is also in sight in civil proceedings. A plaintiff who won 100% before the Higher Regional Court did not want to accept the usual decision on costs, according to which the costs of the litigation are set off against each other. The decision to set aside costs is very popular in Italy, regardless of the outcome of the case. It is usually justified by the particular difficulty of the legal matter and is an expression of compassion for the party who has lost. After all, the party has already suffered enough.
The plaintiff, who had fully prevailed in II. Nevertheless, he appealed to the Court of Cassation - and was finally proven right (Court of Cassation 14071/2021). The winner takes it all, including the right to reimbursement of his costs.