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Italy: IALS Library Guides

An introduction to legal research in the jurisdiction of Italy

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Last updated:

Heather Memess, June 2019

About the author HM

This guide was created by Heather Memess, Legal Research Support Librarian at the IALS Library.


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Italy as a nation is a relatively modern creation, being the result of a unification of numerous kingdoms, duchies and principalities in 1861. The French conquest of the Italian states in the 1790s introduced the Code Napoleon, and much legislation based on the French model survived in various jurisdictions over the next 50 years.

Although Italy is a unitary state according to the Constitution of 1948, a system of regional governments was established after the Second World War. Four "Special Regions" were set up in 1948, and a fifth in 1963, while the rest of the country was divided into 15 "Ordinary Regions" in a process lasting from 1970 to 1975.

Between 1865 and 1890 the usual complement of five codes for the whole of Italy was achieved: Civil Code, Code of Civil Procedure, Code of Commerce, Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure. A new Penal Code was introduced in 1931 and a Code of Civil Procedure in 1940. In 1942 a new Civil Code combined both civil and commercial law, so that there is no longer a separate Commercial Code. The current Code of Criminal Procedure appeared in 1988. To these four should be added the Code of Navigation (1942), which regulates both national and international sea and air transport. In addition to these are the military codes.

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Primary sources: Constitution

As with other continental jurisdictions, IALS sources are mainly commercial publications rather than official ones.

Our collection includes copies of the Italian constitution both in Italian and English.  

An online resource for material relating to foreign constitutions, started in 2010, is World Constitutions Illustrated. This is a contemporary and historical collection of documents, which is available as part of the IALS subscription to HeinOnline. It is available to all users on site at IALS. Offsite access is limited to staff and students of IALS, SAS and University of London. It includes consolidated and original texts of the Constitution for different periods in time. It also provides full text links to a range of historical commentaries and articles about the Italian Constitution, selected by the editors.

IALS also holds the loose-leaf publication by Blaustein and Flanz Constitutions of the countries of the world (Volume 9, release 2007-3), but this no longer updated.

The constitution can also be found in both English and Italian on the website of the Chamber of Deputies.

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Primary sources: Codes and statutes

For the main codes, we have a one-volume compilation:

  • I quattro codici e le leggi complementari [i.e. "The four codes and complementary laws"] Giuffrè, 2006 (previous edition 2003)

Reference may also be made to the one-volume commentaries on each code described below under Treatises.

The Code of Navigation is represented by

  • Gaeta, D. and Pescatore, G. Codice delle leggi sulla navigazione marittima interna e aerea. 2nd ed., Giuffrè, 1965.
  • Tullio, L. Codice della Navigazione. Giuffre, 2007.

The Civil Code is represented by:

  • Cendon, P. Codice civile annotato con la giurisprudenza e leggi complementari.  De Agostini professionale , 2004. 2 vols.
  • Codice civile. Societa Editrice del Foro Italiano, 2010.

The Civil Code was published in English translation in 1969, and a second edition appeared in 1991 in looseleaf format. This has since been superseded by a new 2012 edition which is available at IALS:

  • Beltramo, S. The Italian Civil Code and complementary legislation . West, 2012

The text of the Italian Civil Code (Il Codice Civile Italiano) can be found in Italian on the website of the Cardozo Institute of Comparative Law at the University of Trento

The Code of Civil Procedure is represented by:

  • Grossi, S. Commentary on the Italian code of civil procedure. OUP, 2010. (Includes English translation of this code)
  • Petitti, S. Codice di procedura civile . 2nd ed. Giuffre, 1998.

The Code of Criminal Procedure is represented by:

  • Conso, G. Codice di procedura penale. Giuffre, 1995. (Regular updating supplements also published).
  • Lattanzi, G. and Lupo, E. Codice di procedura penale. 2nd ed. Giuffre, 2003.
  • Gialuz, M. (and others). The Italian code of criminal procedure: critical essays and English translation. Wolters Kluwer, 2017.

Sessional legislation is officially published in the Gazzetta ufficiale della Repubblica italiana, published since the foundation of the State in 1861. IALS has the commercially published series Lex, from 1915 until 2016 when it ceased publication. This contains both national and regional legislation. The IALS set is complete except for the years 1940-1942. Shelved with it is an index of legislation in force, both national and regional.

The Normattiva website can be used to search legislation published in the Official Gazette from 1861 onwards. The Constitution, codes and regional legislation are also given.

The full-text of laws of the current legislature can be found on the Parlamento Italiano web site.

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Finding legislation at IALS

Citation style

cod. proc. civ., art. 660 comma, 5

l.reg. 7 agosto 1953 n.47

l. 7 agosto 1990 no.250

Finding legislation

For legislation since 1987 try the digest Giustizia civile : repertorio generale annuale di legislazione, bibliografia, giurisprudenza. Published annually, the main work is arranged alphabetically by subject. Indexes at the back allow searching by the date and number of the law. This digest can also be used to check whether any changes have been made to any particular piece of legislation in any given year since 1987.

Alternatively if you know the date you can try the indexes in the annual volumes of Lex or, if you know the subject, try the index of legislation in force, both national and regional, shelved with Lex under the title La legislazione vigente 1981. This series can also be used to locate laws pre-1987 whose date is known.

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Law reports

The two most widely used general series of reports are

  • Foro italiano 1876- (IALS 1915-)

  • Giurisprudenza Italiana 1848- (IALS 1910- ) except 1943-7

Specialized reports include

  • Foro amministrativo 1925- (IALS 1956-2001) which from 2002 becomes

  • Il Foro amministrativo: T.A.R. and

  • Il Foro amministrativo: C.d.S

  • Giurisprudenza commerciale (IALS 1989- )

  • Giurisprudenza costituzionale 1956- (IALS 1965-2015)

  • Giustizia civile 1951- 2013 (IALS complete)

  • Raccolta ufficiale delle sentenze e ordinanze della Corte Costituzionale 1956- 2012 (IALS complete)

  • Responsabilita civile e previdenza (IALS 1965- ) - a journal containing articles and legislation as well as court reports.

  • Sentenze e ordinanze della Corte Costituzionale 1962-1972 (IALS lacks only vol.1)


Decisions of the Constitutional Court (Decisioni della Corte costituzionale) can be accessed in Italian via Consulta Online

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Digests of cases

There are two categories of publication which may be described as "digests". Both the Foro italiano and Giurisprudenza italiana publish a companion series called a "massimario", usually published monthly and cumulated annually. These contain the "massime" or legal principles underlying the civil and criminal decisions of the Supreme Court (Corte de Cassazione). A special department of the Court is charged with extracting these "maxims", which to an English reader look rather like headnotes or entries in a case digest.

The Institute has only the Massimario della Giurisprudenza italiana on subscription (IALS incomplete holdings 1931-1980 then 1981-2007)

Other massimarii relating to specific areas of law are published, but none is received currently (there are a few random out of date volumes in the reserve collection).

Slightly wider in scope are publications with the title Repertorio, published annually. These reproduce not only massime from a large range of reports and periodicals, but also references to legislation, books and articles published during the year. Arrangement is alphabetical by subject.

  • Foro italiano: repertorio generale annuale di giurisprudenza, bibliografia e legislazione (IALS 1932-34 and 1950-57 only)

  • Repertorio generale annuale di legislazione, bibliografia, giurisprudenza . Giuffrè, 1955- . Published in conjunction with Giustizia civile (IALS 1987- 2012)

  • Repertorio delle decisioni della Corte costituzionale (IALS 1956- 2001)

  • Repertorio generale annuale della Giurisprudenza italiana (IALS 1931-41)

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Finding cases at IALS

You should be able to find an Italian case if you have any one or more of the following pieces of information:

  • party names
  • date case was heard
  • court where case was heard
  • subject

Citation style

Cass.civ.sez III, 27 aprile 1998 n.4285

Foro it . 1999, 1289

Finding cases

The main index is the digest Giustizia civile : repertorio generale annuale di legislazione, bibliografia, giurisprudenza [IALS 1987- 2012]. There are indexes at the end of each year allowing entry by party name, court name or date.

For cases pre-1987 for which you have the date you could try the annual indexes to the volumes of Foro italiano or Giurisprudenza Italiana (or its companion series Massimario della Giurisprudenza Italiana ) which allow searching by subject, date, party names or type of law (eg code, national, regional legislation). Foro italiano, which holds opinions from the Constitutional, civil, criminal and administrative courts, is available on JSTOR from 1876 to 2011.

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Two publications may be placed in this category: the Digesto Italiano, which is not held by IALS, and the Enciclopedia del Diritto, which we do have.

The Enciclopedia del diritto is published by Guiffre in around 46 volumes since 1958.

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There are several works on a grand scale in Italian legal literature, of which the Institute has very few. These are:

  • Bianca, M. Diritto Civile. 1990- Giuffre. 6 volumes some in 2nd editions 2000-

  • Cendon, P. Commentario al Codice civile edited by "docenti e magistrati" (teachers and judges) published by UTET in 1991, and updated in 2009. 6 books in 9 volumes plus an index.

  • Galgano, F. Diritto civile e commerciale . Cedam, 2004. 4 volumes in 6.

  • Manzini, V. Trattato di diritto penale italiano 5th ed. UTET, 1981- 9 vols

  • Messineo, F. Manuale di diritto civile e commerciale 1957-1972. 7 vols. Giuffrè.

  • Pescatore, G. and Ruperto, C. Le leggi complementari al codice civile. 6th ed. Giuffre, 2007. 2 vols.

  • Vassalli, F. Trattato di diritto civile italiano. 14 vols in 26 (projected as 15 vols in over 50). UTET

Our main work on company law is really an annotated collection of statutes and cases:

  • Alessi, G. et al. Le società. Giuffrè, 1976. 4 vols in 5, with supplements 1977-78 and 1978-80.

We have a collection of the Manuali giuridici : "manuals" or one-volume textbooks published by Giuffrè:

  • Antolisei, F. Manuale di diritto penale. Parte speciale, 2016

  • Landi, G. Manuale di diritto amministrativo 13th ed., 2002

  • Landi, G. et al. Manuale dir diritto e di procedura penale militare 1976.

  • Lugo, A. Manuale di diritto processuale civile 16th ed., 2006.

  • Pajardi, P. Manuale di diritto fallimentare 6th ed., 2002

  • Santaniello, G. and Maruotti, L. Manuale di diritto penale: parte generale, 1990.

  • Tonini, P. Manuale di procedura penale, 2014.

  • Torrente, A. and Schlesinger, P. Manuale di diritto privato,2013.

A series of useful one-volume "short commentaries" on the major codes are published by CEDAM under the collective title Breviaria Iuris . The Institute has the following volumes:

  • Alpa, G. and Zatti, P. Commentario breve al Codice civile: leggi complementari . 4th ed. 2006.

  • Carpi, F. and others Commentario breve al Codice di procedura civile, 2012.

  • Cian, G. Commentario breve al Codice civile: complemento giurisprudenziale. 2011.

  • Cian, G. and Trabucchi, A. Commentario breve al Codice civile, 2014.

  •          Forti, G. (and others), Commentario breve al Codice penale, 2017.
  • Crespi, A. Commentario breve al Codice penale: complemento giurisprudenziale. 12th ed. 2011.

  • Conso, G. and Grevi, V. Commentario breve al nuovo Codice di procedura penale. 3rd ed. 2000.

  •          Luca-Tamajo, R. Commentario breve alle leggi sul lavoro, 2013.
  • Maffei, A.A. Commentario breve alla legge fallimentare, 2013.

  • Marchetti, P. and Ubertazzi, C.L. Commentario breve alla legislazione sulla proprita industriale e intellettuale . 1987.

  • Marchetti, P. and Ubertazzi, C.L. Commentario breve al diritto della concorrenza. 1997.


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Recent acquisitions

Recent acquisitions include:

  • Albanesi, E.  Teoria e tecnica legislativa nel sistema costituzionale. Editoriale scientifica, 2019

  • Gabrielli, E. Remedios: Contribucion al estudio de las tutelas contractuales. Universidad Catolica del Uruguay, 2018
  • Gabrielli, E. L'automonia privata: dal contratto alla crisi d'impresa. CEDAM, 2020
  • Gabrielli, E. El contrato del tipo contractual a la operacion economica. Ediciones Olejnic, 2020

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English language works on Italian law

Some recent English language books include:

  • Cenini, M. Cases and materials on Italian private law. Giuffre, 2016
  • Cerini, D. Insurance law in Italy. Kluwer, 2019
  • Ferrari, G F. Introduction to Italian public law. Giuffre2018
  • Gialuz, M. The Italian code of criminal procedure : critical essays and English translation. Kluwer, 2017

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Titles on current subscription are:

  • Il diritto di autore 1930- (IALS 1959- )

  • Diritto e giurisprudenza: rassegna di dottrina e di giurisprudenza civile della Corte di Napoli e delle Corti Meridionali 1885- (IALS 1960-2011)

  • Il diritto marittimo 1899- (IALS 1959- )

  • Jus: rivista di scienze giuridiche 1950- (IALS complete)

  • Quaderni costituzionali (IALS 1999-2013 )

  • Rivista del diritto commerciale e del diritto generale delle obbligazioni 1903- (IALS 1960- )

  • Rivista delle società 1956- 2011 (IALS complete)

  • Rivista di diritto agrario 1922- (IALS 1975-2011 )

  • Rivista di diritto civile 1955- 2012

  • Rivista italiana di diritto e procedura penale 1958- (incomplete)

  • Rivista trimestrale di diritto e procedura civile 1947- (IALS 1953-2005 )

  • Rivista trimestrale di diritto pubblico 1951- (IALS 1960-2012)

Together with the major law report series, these are all indexed in the Index to foreign legal periodicals. Italian titles in international and European law are excluded from this list.

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The Institute holds an annual index to Italian legal literature from 1865 up to 1990 which includes not only periodical articles but also books published during the year: Dizionario bibliografico delle reviste giuridiche italiane edited by V. Napoletano. Giuffre, 1865-1961 in two volumes, then annual from 1962 to 1990.

The DoGi database of the Istituto per la Documentazione Giurdica (Institute for Legal Documentation) contains abstracts in Italian of articles published in around 350 Italian legal journals since 1970. A list of Italian libraries of legal interest with online information and catalogues can be found on the same site

The Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico is a government office merging all Italian public library catalogues into a single OPAC. The catalogue is reached via the National Library Service website.  Several of the major Italian legal publishers have their catalogues available on the internet including Giuffre, Cedam, Utet and Zanichelli.

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IALS holds the following Italian legal dictionaries:

  • De Franchis, F. Dizionario giuridico: law dictionary. 2 volumes, one English to Italian (published in 1984) and the other Italian to English (published 1996)

  • Mastellone, L. Legal and commercial dictionary: English-Italian. Butterworth, 1980.

  • Galgano, F. Dizionario enciclopedico del diritto. Cedam, 1996. 2 vols.

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decreto legge



decreto ministeriale




l. reg.


legge regionale




For further abbreviations see Sprudzs, A. Italian abbreviations and symbols: law and related subjects (1969)

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Resource guides

Useful starting points to sources of Italian legal information include:

Salvatore D'Elia, E and Ragona, M. Italy in Winterton, J and Moys, E (eds). Information sources in law (2nd ed). Bowker Saur, 1997.

Guide to Italian legal research and resources on the web, by Elio Fameli and Fiorenza Socci, was published in June 2006, and updated in July 2017 by Maria Angela Biasiotti and Elio Fameli on the Globalex website.

The site of the Instituto di Teoria e Tecniche dell' Informazione Giuridica (Institute of Legal Information Theory and Techniques) outlines the databases which it publishes, and includes some useful guides in Italian.

The Italy section of WorldLII, the law index and search service maintained by the Australasian Legal Information Institute, allows the browsing and searching of selected sites containing Italian primary legal materials.

The Eagle-i Internet Portal for Law, a guide to good quality law resources on the internet, includes over twenty items on Italy. is a privately maintained portal to Italian legal information on the web.

Documentazione di Fonte Pubblica in Rete is a site created by the Italian Libraries Association providing access to public information on the web.

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