Analysis of time duration of civil disputes in Italy. A case study with microdata from Sicilian Courts

Paolo Lorenzo Ferrara (Università di Catania)
Giuseppe Di Vita (Università di Catania)
Alessandra Patti (Università di Catania)


In recent decades, the excessive duration of legal disputes has been identified by scholars as a critical factor contributing to judicial inefficiencies and, consequently, to the economic growth of a country. Hence, this paper aims to analyse factors that influence the duration of such disputes. To address this objective, we utilize a cross-sectional dataset comprising 16,789 first-instance civil verdicts pronounced in 2022 by ten first instance Civil Courts in Sicily (Italy). Specifically, by examining twelve distinct categories of civil litigation codes, namely personality rights, family rights, property rights and inheritance law, contracts and obligations, liability for tort, legal entities, company law, lease and commodatum, bankruptcy, administrative law, banking law, and other institutions, we find that the duration of disputes is significantly influenced by the topic. Notably, cases involving personality rights exhibit the longest average duration, whereas those concerning family rights display the shortest. In addition, using a set of quantitative indicators of regulatory complexity at topic level we show that complexity matters in determining dispute time duration. From a policy perspective, these findings carry noteworthy implications regarding resource allocation across sectors of judicial administration and foster regulatory simplification.

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