New regulations, in force since the 1st March 2010 introduce strict statutory deadlines for Italian banking services.

Banks are sometimes slow in crediting payments, and very fast in debiting. New legislation implementing an European Union Directive now introduces statutory deadlines for all banks operating in Italy.

Ordinary Italian bank transfers in Euro must now be credited to the bank account of the recipient the following day. The same term applies to bank transfers within the European Union, in currency other than Euros, provided the conversion to a different currency occurs outside Italy. Up to 01.01.2012 banks operating in Italy may, however, expressly agree with their clients additional “delays” of up to four days from the date the payment was effected.

As far as interest is concerned, these new regulations provide that the “Data valuta” (the date from which interest will start to accrue on any sum received) cannot be later than the day following the date when the sum was actually received on the client`s bank account. From the same date, funds must be available to the recipient.

Rights of Italian banks` customers are also enhanced and specifically protected by this legislation. Upon receipt of a payment order an Italian bank is now expressly responsible for its correct performance. Where any funds are incorrectly paid out, the bank is required immediately to credit the customer with the amount outstanding.

Where incorrect payments occur due to the fault of clients, banks are required to do all possible to recover the funds, upon being informed of any error / mistake.

Banks operating in Italy are also required to ensure safe and reliable payment systems, they cannot send cards or payment instruments which are not expressly requested by the client. Banks must also ensure reliable and safe communication channels through which a client may report theft, misuse or any other unauthorized use of “payment procedures”. After this notification, no further sums may be debited to the client for any abuse, misuse or fraud.

In case of disagreement between a client and his bank, it will be up to the bank to prove that it received appropriate instructions, and that it carried them out, correctly. On the other hand, a client is required to report any incorrect / unauthorised operation to his bank within 13 months.

Under this legislation, banks are subject to the supervision of the Italian central bank. Disappointed clients may report defaulting banks, and substantial fines will be levied where the breach can be proved. Where breaches of these regulations are reiterated, banking licences may be suspended.

The same legislation provides that ordinary bank cheques (Assegni bancari) must clear and actually be credited within five days of payment in. Special bankers` drafts (Assegni circolari) must clear within four days. On the other hand, interest must start accruing within one and three days respectively.

These are only the main provisions of a complex raft of legislation, which effectively is a charter for the Italian banks` customers.

Claudio Del Giudice

Copyrights reserved 23.03.2010