Court of Cassation (Italy)
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The Court of Cassation also ensures the correct application of law in the inferior and appeal courts. Also, it resolves disputes as to which lower court (penal, civil, administrative, military) has jurisdiction to hear a given case.
Appeal to the Court of Cassation is in most cases not a matter of right, only with leave to appeal. The Court of Cassation cannot overrule the trial court's interpretation of the evidence but can correct a lower court's interpretation or application of the law. Appeals to the Court of Cassation generally come from the appeals court, but litigants may also appeal directly from the trial court.
Decisions of the supreme court are binding only in the case submitted. The two essential roles of the Court of Cassation are to ensure that lower courts correctly follow legal procedure and to harmonize the interpretation of laws by lower courts through its interpretation. However, lower courts find those judgments persuasive.
The Court of Cassation is arranged into two divisions (penal and civil). The court has one main president (The First President of the Court of Cassation), a deputy, and each division has its own president. Most cases are heard by a panel of five judges. In some cases (especially difficult matters of statutory interpretation) nine judges hear the case. In addition, a public prosecutor must state his interpretation of the applicable law in every case submitted to the court to aid judges in reaching their decision.
The Court of Cassation was reorganized by royal decree 12 on 30 January 1941, supplanting in 1865 the previous court provided by the former Italian Civil Code. The need for this kind of court in Europe became apparent with the Ancien Régime's difficulties in maintaining both uniformity of interpretation and supremacy of the central laws against local privileges and rights. This kind of court first appeared during the French Revolution. The original French court were initially much more like a legislative body than a judicial one. During his conquests, Napoleon greatly influenced Italian legal theory, and the Court of Cassation was formed using many imported French ideas.