In Italy all EU consumer protection legislation has been collected into a consolidated Act called “Codice del Consumo” (Consumer Code). This Act is the Legislative Decree n. 206, dated 6 September 2005 which came into force on 23 October 2005. It brings together and coordinates all existing consumer protection provisions, synthesising them into 146 articles (the number of articles has been increased to 170 since 2007 update).
The approval of the Consumer Code can be considered a milestone in the consumer protection field in Italy, especially for the importance that the new legislation acquires in terms of Public policy law: consumer issues were previously covered by specific regulations that were adopted from time to time, without coordination, mostly to implement EU Directives.
The Consumer Code is therefore the single Act which covers and consolidates all the different stages in the consumer dealings, from advertising to correct information, from consumer contracts in general to product safety, access to justice and consumer organizations.
In 2007 the new article 140-bis on class action was introduced into the Code, but its enforcement has been repeatedly delayed until 2009, when its original version was modified in order to weaken the initiative of consumer organizations. The final version of this article will come into force on 1 January 2010, but there are doubts about its effectiveness, because it is the result of a strong lobby activity carried out by the Confindustria, unwilling to give too much power to consumers. Italian consumers will therefore be provided with a weak tool, which can be very risky for private citizens.