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Logistics contracts in the Italian Civil Code

Law n 79/2002 amended art. 1677-bis of the Italian Civil Code, adding a specific reference to contracts for the provision of logistic services.

The previous wording of art.1677-bis cod. civ. was as follows: “If the contract provides for the supply, at the same time, of several services relating to the receipt, warehousing, custody, forwarding, carriage and distribution of clients’ goods, carriage services are subject to the rules of transport contracts, as far as appropriate”.

The new wording is instead as follows: “If the contract provides for the supply, at the same time, of two or more logistic services relating to the receipt, transformation, warehousing, custody, forwarding, carriage and distribution of clients’ goods, carriage services are subject to the rules of transport contracts, as far as appropriate.”.

The comparison between the old and new wordings shows three differences: (i) the clarification “two or more services”; (ii) the substitution of “services relating to” with “logistic services relating to”; (iii) the addition, in the list of the types of services, of the “transformation” of goods.

None of these amendments seems to be significant and perhaps they are even useless.

(i) “several services” and “two or more services” are entirely equivalent words.

(ii) substituting “services” with “logistic services” does not add anything to the precision of the definition and might have the opposite effect; on one hand, the description of the various types of services in the previous wording corresponds to those that are commonly considered as logistic services; on the other hand, there is no legislative definition of logistic services to which the new wording of art. 1677-bis cod. civ. can be taken to refer. In view of the different contents that a logistics contract may have in practice, a legislative definition that fixes its nature is perhaps unhelpful.

(iii) the “transformation” of goods is not a typical or frequent component of logistics contracts.

As a matter of fact, even in its original wording, as provided by Law n. 234/2021, art. 1677-bis cod. civ. is probably useless. Contracts for the supply of logistic services could (as held by case law and academic studies) be adequately regulated by art. 1677 cod. civ., that, in relation to contracts for the performance of services, refers to the rules on the supply of goods or services on a continuous basis (“somministrazione”). Art. 1570 cod. civ. would become relevant, where it provides for the application, as far as appropriate, of “the rules which govern the contract corresponding to each type of service”. In this way, the application of rules pertaining to each type of service is ensured not only for carriage, but also for any other possible type of service (e.g. warehousing, agency) which can be included in a logistics contract.

 

Marco Lopez De Gonzalo

marco.lopez@mordiglia.it