Solicitors have welcomed Italy’s efforts to reform its civil justice system to become a more business-friendly jurisdiction.

The government programme of reform includes measures aimed at increasing the efficiency of the courts and cutting the backlog of cases; developing a special commercial jurisdiction for investors and businesses; and promoting alternative dispute resolution.

Speaking at the Law Society in London, Italian justice minister Andrea Orlando (pictured) spoke of the ‘mountain’ Italy has had to climb.

Italy had almost six million pending civil cases at the end of 2009. Civil justice performance indicators placed the country towards the bottom of international benchmarks, with a lack of specialised tribunals for specific subject matters, while IT infrastructures and management systems were ‘uneven’ throughout the country.

Giuseppe Sacchi Lodispoto, partner at Italian firm BonelliErede, which has an office in London, said a full trial in Italy can last up to eight years and ordinary bankruptcy proceedings several years.

Sacchi Lodispoto said: ‘The current government has shown strong commitment and resolve in furthering reform, and foreign investors are increasingly taking note, as they see many of their traditional complaints being addressed.’

Ongoing reforms that have helped to reduce the backlog include the creation of business courts with a specific competence for international firms operating in Italy. Initial data, Orlando said, showed encouraging signs of improvement.