- Corte dei Conti - Sezione Giurisdizionale per la Regione Siciliana
DISPUTE BETWEEN AN ITALIAN INDIVIDUAL AND AN ITALIAN PUBLIC AUTHORITY - USE OF UNIDROIT PRINCIPLES AS A MEANS OF INTERPRETING APPLICABLE DOMESTIC LAW (ITALIAN LAW)
LEGITIMATE EXPECTATIONS GENERATED BY THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE PUBLIC AUTHORITY - PROHIBITION OF INCONSISTENT BEHAVIOUR - REFERENCE TO ARTICLE 1.8 UNIDROIT PRINCIPLES
Claimant, a former Navy sailor, brought an action against Defendant, the Italian National Pension Institute (INPS), contesting the latter's request to return part of the pension erroneously paid by the Institute over sixteen years of retirement.
The Court decided in favour of Claimant. Defendant had regularly paid the pension to Claimant for over 16 years before recalculating the exact amount of the pension, thus generating a legitimate expectation in him. Therefore, according to the Court, Defendant was no longer entitled to recover the amount of the pension paid in excess.
According to the Court, the prohibition of venire contra factum proprium, codified in other legal systems, is also present in the Italian legal system and derives from the more general principle of good faith. In support of its decision the Court expressly referred to Article 1.8 of the UNIDROIT Principles according to which “[a] party cannot act inconsistently with an understanding it has caused the other party to have and upon which that other party reasonably has acted in reliance to its detriment.”
NOTE: This judgment is part of a series of decisions of the same Court (Corte dei Conti - Sezione Giurisdizionale per la Regione Siciliana), in which the reference to Art. 1.8 of the UNIDROIT Principles has been used to specify a general principle which is deemed to be already present in the Italian legal system, but is considered to be rather vague and unclear.