Monthly Archives: February 2019

New Grounds for Exclusion of Contractors from Public Tender Procedures

Italian Law Decree no. 135 of December 14, 2018, titled “Urgent provisions on support and simplification for businesses and public administration” (so called “Decreto Semplificazioni”), which this blog already discussed here, has also an impact on the Public Contracts Code (Legislative Decree No. 50/2016).

Inter alia, section 80 of the Public Contracts Code on “Grounds for exclusion” has been amended and three new type of circumstances triggering exclusion have been established:

  • exclusion from participation in the tender procedure when “the contracting authority demonstrates by appropriate means that the economic operator has been guilty of serious professional offenses, such as to make his integrity or reliability questionable “; (letter c)
  • exclusion from the tender when “the economic operator has attempted to unduly influence the decision-making process of the contracting authority or obtain confidential information for the purpose of its own benefit or provided, even by negligence, false or misleading information likely to influence the decisions on exclusion, selection or award, or omitted the information required for the proper conduct of the selection procedure“; (letter c-bis)
  • exclusion also in the further case where “the economic operator has demonstrated significant or persistent deficiencies in the execution of a previous public contract that have caused the termination of the contract due to non-compliance or a judgment ordering damages or other comparable sanctions ” (letter c-ter).

With specific reference to this latter c-ter), we note that it has modified the previous provision according to which among the serious professional offenses there are “significant deficiencies in the execution of a previous public contract that have caused the termination of the contract, not challenged in court, or confirmed as a result of a judgment (..)“.

Therefore, according to the new art. 80, par. 5, let. c-ter) of the Public Contract Code, a candidate may be excluded from the public tender in the presence of a previous contractual termination with a public authority, even if challenged in court and still pending before the judge. The point has also been recently confirmed by the sentence of the T.A.R. Marche-Ancona, January 15, 2019, n. 32.

Agreement Reached on the European Copyright Directive

An agreement has been reached on the much discussed European Directive on copyright. In a race against time to close the dossier by the end of the legislature, in the late evening of February 13, the Parliament, the Commission and the Council of the European Union have finally found an agreement on the copyright directive, which this blog already illustrated .

The vice president of the European Commission immediately tweeted «Europeans will finally have modern copyright rules fit for digital age!». Supporters insist that the new provision will guarantee rights for users, fair remuneration for creators and clarity of rules for platforms. On the other hand, the opposition, stronger than ever before, wants to prevent the imminent change of the internet as we know it.

The highest expectations, placed on the trilogue, concerned the much debated articles 11 and 13, and these have reported to be the outcomes:

  • With regard to the publishers rights, the new version of article 11 sets forth a general need to get a license for the online use of publishers’ press publications, with the only exception for the use of «individual words or very short extracts». According to the Commission, mere hyperlinks and snippets are, therefore, not included in the reform. However, how short should be a “very short extracts” is still to be understood.
  • With regard to the use of protected content by online content sharing services provider, online platforms should obtain a preemptively authorization from the right holders, concluding licensing agreements (where online platform is defined as «a provider of an information society service whose main or one of the main purposes is to store and give the public access to a large amount of works or other subject-matter uploaded by its users which it organizes and promotes for profit-making purposes»). Indeed, an exception has been created for small online platforms, which will not be subject to the abovementioned obligation if they: have been available to the public for less than three years; have an annual turnover below 10 million of euro; and have less than 5 million of visitors.

In the other cases, if no authorization is granted, sharing services providers shall be liable for unauthorized acts of communication unless they demonstrate not only to have made the best efforts to obtain the authorization, but also, in accordance with high industry standards of professional diligence, to have made the best efforts to ensure the unavailability of specific works, as well as to have acted expeditiously to remove the content, after receipt of a notice from the right holders.

We will see if the agreement will survive until the finishing line or if the vote of the European Parliament, scheduled for March-April, will block the text once again, as, unfortunately, already happened.

Italy Recognizes Legal Effects to Documents Based on Blockchain Technologies.

Under Italian law a document saved through blockchain technologies can have legal effects.

According to Law Decree 135/2018 (“Decreto Semplificazioni”), which was recently confirmed into law by Law 12/2019, technologies based on distribuited records can have the same legal effects as electronic time stamps under section 41 of EU Regulation 910/2014. Such effects will be obtained if certain technical standards are met and the regulatory body Agenzia per l’Italia Digitale is entrusted with the task of setting forth such standards within 90 days.

Technologies based on distributed records are defined as “technologies and information protocols that use a shared register that is distributed, replicable, simultaneously accessible, architectural decentralized on cryptographic basis, such as to allow the recording, validation, updating and archiving of data both in accessible format and further protected by cryptography verified by each member, not alterable and not modifiable”. The scope of the definition is wide and intends to include blockchain technologies, which can be varied.

Similarly, technologies based on distributed records will also allow so called “smart contracts” to have legal effects. Smart contracts will be presumed to have legal effects when the contractual parties have been previously identified on the basis of technologies based on distributed records. Again, details will be up to the Agenzia per l’Italia Digitale.

Italy’s effort to pioneer the embrace of new technologies in the legal field is commendable, but there is a risk that standards set forth by the Agenzia will not be the same as other national or international standards that may be emerging in the near future.