The Italian Legal System
An Introduction, Second Edition
Michael A. Livingston, Pier Giuseppe Montaneri, and Francesco Parisi


Preface to the First Edition

The purpose of this book is to open the way to the study of Italian law and, through it, the civil law system. Italian law has its own characteristics, just as French and German law, for example, have theirs. Indeed, the differences between legal systems commonly classified as belonging to the civil law family often seem of a higher order than the differences between those, say of California and England. But Western European jurisdictions also share a common legal culture that gives meaning to their law and tends to limit the importance of formal differences in norms, institutions, and processes. This common culture, much of which is Italic in origin, is readily accessible through the study of Italian law.

Although there is a good deal of writing in English about other continental legal systems, little exists that would be helpful to one seeking an introduction to Italian law. The decision taken in 1961 to focus on the Italian legal system in the basic foreign and comparative law courses at Stanford consequently created the need that this book attempts to fill.

The collaborative effort that produced this book grew out of a chance meeting of the authors in Florence in 1962. From that beginning we have all participated in planning and preparing its contents. Professor Cappelletti took initial responsibility for Chapters 1 and 4; Professor Merryman for Chapters 5, 6, and 7; and Professor Perillo for Chapters 2 and 3; and Professors Cappelletti and Merryman for the Appendixes. Professor Perillo translated Professor Cappelletti’s work into English, and Professor Merryman coordinated production of the book and saw it through the press. Each of us read, criticized, and supplemented the work of the others, and it is accurate to say that this volume is the product of our joint, as well as our several, endeavors.

There is much in this volume that departs from the traditions of scholarship in foreign and comparative law. We have decided to let the reader discover these departures for himself, with only one exception. We cannot resist calling attention to Appendix B, which represents the complete history of a civil action from trial through appeal, cassation, and decision on remand. Anyone who would like to get the feel of Italian law in action should find this account fascinating. [Note: This Appendix is not included in the Second Edition.]

We thank the many colleagues in Italy and the United States who have generously given us their ideas and criticism. Professor Cappelletti wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Lamberto Pansolli in the preparation of Chapter 1, and Professor Merryman that of Drs. Paolo Scaparone, Giorgio Schiavoni, and Vincenzo Varano in the preparation of Chapters 5, 6 and 7. All of us express our gratitude to Mrs. Evelyn Roodhouse for her assistance in the preparation of the manuscript and for her expert management of the complicated logistics involved in producing a book by three widely scattered authors. Finally, we thank the Ford Foundation for financial support in connection with the research for this volume.