Mandatory mediation in Italy was implemented by D.Lgs. (Legislative Decree) 28/2010, which in art. 3 provided for the ODR. [i] The Covid 19 pandemia led to a sharp increase in the use of ODR, again more extensively regulated in 2022 by D.Lgs. 149/2022, art. 8-bis. [ii]
The main issues of the current legislation are:
A – the possibility of remote connection must be provided for in the mediation body’s rules;
B – the online mediation report must be drawn up and signed in compliance with the provision of the digital administration code; [iii]
C – the signature of the final electronic minute must be done with qualified / digital electronic signatures;
D – the storage and exhibition of the report must be implemented according to the digital administration code.
A’ – Mediation parties can ask to be connected from the remote also without the consent of the other parties, unlike today. The mediation provider must ensure the simultaneous, effective and reciprocal audibility and visibility of connected parties. The mediator will verify, ascertain and state in the minutes that the meeting was managed according to the technological requirements by the law (and, if necessary, he will reschedule the meeting).
But the most relevant innovations are the drafting of the minutes, its storage and delivery, to be done through certified electronic mail (PEC).
B’ – The report must be generated by the mediator in native digital format (pdf), must be sent to the parties (and lawyers, if mediation is compulsory or they are otherwise present) and to be signed with a digital, or other qualified electronic, signature.
C’ – From a legislative point of view, qualified electronic signatures and digital signatures are considered equivalent. [iv]
The signature of the final electronic minute must be done with qualified / digital electronic signatures. Therefore all parties, not only lawyers, will have to be equipped with this kind of signature, and it will no longer be allowed -as today- some parties signing by pen and others with digital devices. The authenticity and integrity of the electronic document will be guaranteed. [v]
According to the Italian legislation, the digital / qualified signature provides the digital document the effectiveness of a private contract, and the value of a handwritten signature. [vi] It refers unambiguously to the individual and to the document, to which it is applied. [vii]
The above is a relevant innovation but, at the same time, a critical issue for the mediation providers in the case (except for companies and professionals) parties will not have qualified signatures. A not minor problem because, to be enforceable, the minutes must be signed by the parties, the lawyers and the mediator. What to do when a party lacks of a qualified signature?
A solution could be to turn to platforms, already present in the legal services market and business processes, which provides the parties to sign with the so called “one-shot” qualified signature, whose validity is limited to the act to be signed.
The “one-shot” signatures are quick and easy to purchase online. They take benefit of the public digital identity (Sistema pubblico di identità digitale – SPID) [viii] or the electronic identity card (carta di indentità elettronica -CIE) of the parties. But they are not free of charges.
D’-The storage and exhibition of the report are under the responsibility of the mediation bodies. These tasks, too, must comply with the digital administration rules.
Summing up. Relevant and interesting new rules are on the way, but a bit expensive.
The mediation providers will be asked to update their tools; but most of them are private entities, which must take into account the economic outcome.
All practitioners will have to update their legal IT skills.
Perhaps new figures will be born, such as the responsible for the storage of digital documents.
Anyway, in Italy it is likely that the ODR will increase, especially at a time when the court proceedings are increasingly carried out on IT devices. And at the same time as the entry in force of the new rules of the civil procedure code seems to discourage recourse to the courts.
[i] Giovanni Matteucci, “Legislative Decree 28/2010, art. 3, paragraph 1, point 4, with proceedings defined by the regulation of each mediation provider”, in ODR Tips and Tricks, Mediate.com 2020
[ii] D.Lgs. 28/2010 (updated by D.Lgs. 149/2022) art. 8-bis - Mediazione in modalità telematica -
1. Quando la mediazione si svolge in modalità telematica, ciascun atto del procedimento è formato e sottoscritto nel rispetto delle disposizioni del codice dell'amministrazione digitale, di cui al decreto legislativo 7 marzo 2005, n. 82, e può essere trasmesso a mezzo posta elettronica certificata o con altro servizio di recapito certificato qualificato.
2. Gli incontri si possono svolgere con collegamento audiovisivo da remoto. I sistemi di collegamento audiovisivo utilizzati per gli incontri del procedimento di mediazione assicurano la contestuale, effettiva e reciproca udibilità e visibilità delle persone collegate. Ciascuna parte può chiedere al responsabile dell'organismo di mediazione di partecipare da remoto o in presenza.
3. A conclusione della mediazione il mediatore forma un unico documento informatico, in formato nativo digitale, contenente il verbale e l'eventuale accordo e lo invia alle parti per la sottoscrizione mediante firma digitale o altro tipo di firma elettronica qualificata. Nei casi di cui all'articolo 5, comma 1, e quando la mediazione è demandata dal giudice, il documento elettronico è inviato anche agli avvocati che lo sottoscrivono con le stesse modalità.
4. Il documento informatico, sottoscritto ai sensi del comma 3, è inviato al mediatore che lo firma digitalmente e lo trasmette alle parti, agli avvocati, ove nominati, e alla segreteria dell'organismo.
5. La conservazione e l'esibizione dei documenti del procedimento di mediazione svolto con modalità telematiche avvengono, a cura dell'organismo di mediazione, in conformità all'articolo 43 del decreto legislativo n. 82 del 2005.
[iii] AGID, Agenzia per l’Italia digitale, Codice Amministrazione digitale, D.Lgs. 82/2005, updated in 2022.
[iv] AGID, Agenzia per l’Italia digitale, Codice Amministrazione digitale, D.Lgs. 82/2005, updated in 2022
Regulation (EU) no 910/2014 of the European Parliament and or the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC
Electronic signature (Firma elettronica – FES or firma elettronica semplice) (EU Regulation 910/2014, art. 3.10) “means data in electronic form which is attached to or logically associated with other data in electronic form and which is used by the signatory to sign”; i.e. the e.mail;
Advanced electronic signature (Firma elettronica Avanzata – FEA) (art.3.11) “means an electronic signature which meets the requirements set out in Article 26”;
Art. 26 – Requirements for advanced electronic signatures – An advanced electronic signature shall meet the following requirements:
(a) it is uniquely linked to the signatory;
(b) it is capable of identifying the signatory;
(c) it is created using electronic signature creation data that the signatory can, with a high level of confidence, use under his sole control; and
(d) it is linked to the data signed therewith in such a way that any subsequent change in the data is detectable.
Qualified electronic signature (Firma elettronica qualificata – FEQ) (art.3.12) ‘means an advanced electronic signature that is created by a qualified electronic signature creation device, and which is based on a qualified certificate for electronic signatures.
Annex I – Requirements for qualified certificates for electronic signatures
Qualified certificates for electronic signatures shall contain:
(a) an indication, at least in a form suitable for automated processing, that the certificate has been issued as a qualified certificate for electronic signature;
(b) a set of data unambiguously representing the qualified trust service provider issuing the qualified certificates including at least, the Member State in which that provider is established and:
— for a legal person: the name and, where applicable, registration number as stated in the official records,
— for a natural person: the person’s name;
(c) at least the name of the signatory, or a pseudonym; if a pseudonym is used, it shall be clearly indicated;
(d) electronic signature validation data that corresponds to the electronic signature creation data;
(e) details of the beginning and end of the certificate’s period of validity;
(f) the certificate identity code, which must be unique for the qualified trust service provider;
(g) the advanced electronic signature or advanced electronic seal of the issuing qualified trust service provider;
(h) the location where the certificate supporting the advanced electronic signature or advanced electronic seal referred to in point (g) is available free of charge;
(i) the location of the services that can be used to enquire about the validity status of the qualified certificate;
(j) where the electronic signature creation data related to the electronic signature validation data is located in a qualified electronic signature creation device, an appropriate indication of this, at least in a form suitable for automated processing.
Digital signature AGID, Agenzia per l’Italia digitale, Codice Amministrazione digitale, D.Lgs. 82/2005, updated in 2022
art.1,1, s – firma digitale: un particolare tipo di firma qualificata basata su un su un sistema di chiavi crittografiche, una pubblica e una privata, correlate tra loro, che consente al titolare di firma elettronica tramite la chiave privata e a un soggetto terzo tramite la chiave pubblica, rispettivamente, di rendere manifesta e di verificare la provenienza e l’integrità di un documento informatico o di un insieme di documenti informatici;
“A particular type of qualified signature based on a system of cryptographic keys, one public and one private, interrelated, that allows the electronic signature holder via the private key and a third party via the public key, respectively, to authenticate ad verify the origin and integrity of a digital document or a set of digital documents” – the translation is ours.
In other words, the digital signature is a qualified signature, with the presence of a third party and the use of cryptographic keys: the private key to sign the document, the public one to certify the identity of the signatory.
[v] Mario Antonio Stoppa,“La rivoluzione della mediazione telematica in Italia”, Altalex, 2022
[vi] AGID, Agenzia per l’Italia digitale, Codice Amministrazione digitale, art. 20,1 bis.
[vii] Italian Civil Code, art. 2702.
In Italy, out of 60 million inhabitants, more than 30 million have already SPID.
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