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III

Das ADHGB von 1861


als gemeinsames Obligationenrecht
in Mitteleuropa

herausgegeben von

Martin Löhnig und Stephan Wagner

Mohr Siebeck

E-offprint of the author with publisher’s permission


IV

Martin Löhnig (1971); 2001 Promotion; 2006 Habilitation; 2006–2008 Inhaber des W3-Lehr-
stuhls für Bürgerliches Recht, Rechtsgeschichte und Kirchenrecht an der Universität Kon-
stanz; seit 2008 Inhaber des W3-Lehrstuhls für Bürgerliches Recht, Deutsche und Euro-
päische Rechtsgeschichte sowie Kirchenrecht an der Universität Regensburg.
orcid.org/0000-0002-4616-1905

Stephan Wagner (1971); Studium der Rechtswissenschaft und Geschichte in Regensburg, Genf
und Oxford; 1998 M.A.; 2001/02 M.Jur. (Oxford); 2003 Promotion; Wiss. Referent am MPI
für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht, Hamburg; Stellvertretender Referatslei-
ter im Bayerischen Wirtschaftsministerium; Wiss. Assistent am Lehrstuhl für Bürgerliches
Recht, Internationales Privatrecht und Rechtsvergleichung, Universität Regensburg; Visiting
Fellow am IECL, Oxford; 2016 Habilitation; Gastprofessor, Freie Universität Berlin; Lehr-
stuhlvertreter, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel und Eberhard Karls Universität Tü-
bingen.
orcid.org/0000-0002-2476-9557

ISBN 978-3-16-156127-6 / eISBN 978-3-16-156318-8


DOI 10.1628/978-3-16-156318-8
ISSN 2627-0935 / eISSN 2627-0943 (Mitteleuropäisches Zivilrecht)

Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek verzeichnet diese Publikation in der Deutschen National-


bibliographie; detaillierte bibliographische Daten sind im Internet über http://dnb.dnb.de
abrufbar.

© 2018 Mohr Siebeck Tübingen. www.mohrsiebeck.com

Das Werk einschließlich aller seiner Teile ist urheberrechtlich geschützt. Jede Verwertung
außerhalb der engen Grenzen des Urheberrechtsgesetzes ist ohne Zustimmung des Verlags
unzulässig und strafbar. Das gilt insbesondere für die Verbreitung, Vervielfältigung, Über-
setzung und die Einspeicherung und Verarbeitung in elektronischen Systemen.

Das Buch wurde von Computersatz Staiger in Rottenburg/N. aus der Stempel Garamond
gesetzt, von Gulde Druck in Tübingen auf alterungsbeständiges Werkdruckpapier gedruckt
und gebunden.
Printed in Germany.

E-offprint of the author with publisher’s permission


VII

Inhalt

Vorwort . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    V
Abkürzungen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   IX
Grußwort . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   XI

Stephan Wagner
Einführung . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    1

Stephan Wagner
Entstehungsgeschichte der Art. 4–5, 10–11 und 271–277 ADHGB . . . . . . . .    7

Stephan Wagner
Deutscher Bund, Norddeutscher Bund und Deutsches Reich . . . . . . . . . . . . .   79

Wilhelm Brauneder
Österreich-Ungarn (1867–1918): Cisleithanien . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  105

Katalin Gönczi
Österreich-Ungarn (1867–1918): Transleithanien
(mit einem Ausblick auf die Zeit nach 1918) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  113

Martin Löhnig
Bosnien-Herzegowina (1878–1918): Kondominium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  139

Stefan Wedrac
Republik Österreich (1918–1938) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  147

Petra Skř ejpková


Tschechoslowakische Republik (1918–1938) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  169

Kamila Staudigl-Ciechowicz
Republik Polen (1918–1939) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  199

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VIII Inhaltsverzeichnis

Mirela Krešić/Dunja Pastović


Königreich Jugoslawien (1918–1941) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  219

Christian Alunaru
Königreich Rumänien (1881–1947) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   283

Ferdinando Mazzarella
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  305

Nikolaus Linder
Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  339

Martin Löhnig
Ausblick: Was tun? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  353

Stephan Wagner
Synopse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  362

Autoren . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  431

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305

Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)

Ferdinando Mazzarella

I. The encounter between the General German


Commercial Code and the Italian legal culture.
Politics and ideology: techniques, culture, and economy

Two crucial events in the history of the Italian commercial law happened in
March 1861. On 17 March 1861 Italy became a political Nation.1 On 16 March
1861, merely one day before, the conference of Nuremberg, that met for the first
time on 15 January 1857, presented the final draft of the new General German
Commercial Code. That was simultaneaously going to be the first tangible suc-
cess for those dreaming of a greatly unified Germany, and an element of legal
and economic dissimilarity among the different areas of budding Italy. 2
In fact, the application of the ADHGB in some parts of the Italian peninsula
was not only an obstacle to the process of legislative unification in Italy. It was
also a major factor of modernization, a chance to make comparisons, a stimu­lus
to improve, and even an excuse to implement a new commercial law codification.
The history of the encounter between the General German Commercial Code

1  Legge 17 marzo 1861, n. 4671.


2  See now, about the ADHGB, F. Mazzarella , Un diritto per l’Europa industriale:
Cultura giuridica ed economia dalla Rivoluzione francese al Secondo Dopoguerra, Milano,
Giuffrè, 2016, pp. 50–74. For its history and “prehistory” see D. Bühler , Die Entstehung
der allgemeinen Vertragsschluß-Vorschriften im Allgemeinen Deutschen Handelsgesetzbuch
(ADHGB) von 1861: Ein Beitrag zur Kodifikationsgeschichte des Privatrechts im 19. Jahr-
hundert, Frankfurt am Main, Lang, 1991, pp. 15–52, and J. W. Flume, ‘Law and Commerce:
The Evolution of Codified Business Law in Europe’, Comparative Legal History 2 (2014),
45–83, but before already L. Goldschmidt, ‘Der Abschluß und die Einführung des allge-
meinen Deutschen Handelsgesetzbuchs’, ZHR 5 (1862), 515–606. For the unifying function
of the ADHGB see C. Bergfeld, ‘Preußen und das Allgemeine Deutsche Handelsgesetz-
buch’, Ius commune 14 (1987), 101–114, and W. Schubert, ‘Die Einführung der Allgemeinen
Deutschen Wechselordnung und des Allgemeinen Deutschen Handelsgesetzbuchs als Bun-
desgesetze (1869)’, ZHR 144 (1980), 484–492. Furthermore, H. Rumpler , ‘Das “Allgemeine
Deutsche Handelsgesetzbuch” als Element der Bundesreform im Vorfeld der Krise von 1866’,
in idem (ed.), Deutscher Bund und deutsche Frage 1815–1866: Europäische Ordnung, deutsche
Politik und gesellschaftlicher Wandel im Zeitalter der bürgerlich-nationalen Emanzipation,
München, Oldenbourg, pp. 215–234.

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306 Ferdinando Mazzarella

of 1861 and the Italian legal culture was a formal and official history, made up
of parliamentary acts, laws, and decrees, but it was also an unofficial and silent
one, made up of praxis, customs, and debates. It was based on political and ide-
ological reasons, but it also involved technical and human aspects. Indeed the
ADHGB was the law of the Austrian oppressor, the law of the enemy, and the
law of the foreigner, but it was also a model to imitate, a source of solutions, and
the jumping off point for a new Italian codification.3
Throughout the history of Italy there have naturally been two main moments
of contact with the German Commercial Code, or rather, two main periods in
the process of harmonization with the German commercial law, correspond-
ing with the two annexations which took place after the political birth of Italy.
The first moment took place in 1866 after the victory of the Prussian monarchy
against the Habsburg Empire, when Italy obtained “Veneto” as a reward for
its contribution to the war. The second one took place in 1918 after the conclu-
sion of the First World War, when Italy gained the current regions of “Venezia
­Giulia”, “Trentino” and “Alto Adige” (a part from “Istria”, “Zara” and some
islands) through the peace treaties of Saint-Germain and Rapallo.4
Eventhough every moment had its own characters, specificities, and peculi-
arities, there were some general and common lines. Both times during the 19th
century, after the unification, and in the 20th century, before and during Fas-
cism, the Italian Government aimed at achieving a complete legal unity and
could not easily agree with keeping a foreign law in force. The reasons and the
purposes were different, as well as the methods and the strength used, however,
the political worry was similar. Since accepting that a foreign law could repre-
sent a symbol of the past, a recognition of the superiority of the enemy, a proof
of continuity and of weakness. The Italian government’s policies, from the unity
3  The situation of the “Italian” territories under the Habsburg Empire was of course,

also from a legal point of view, very complex. It was characterized, with obvious differences
among the areas, by the delicate coexistence of Italian, German and Slavic elements. Before
evolving to nationalism and “irredentism”, the Italian community of Trieste adopted for in-
stance the idea of an autonomous “national culture”, based on the Italian supremacy, but open
to other contributions; and also the idea of a “Staatsrecht”, grounded on towns’ historical
traditions. See on this topic G. Negrelli , Al di qua del mito. Diritto storico e difesa nazio-
nale nell’autonomismo della Trieste asburgica, Udine, Del Bianco, 1978, and idem , ‘Trieste
nel mito’, in R. Finzi/C. Magris/G. Miccoli (eds.), Storia d’Italia. Le regioni dall’Unità a
oggi, Il ­Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, vol. II, Torino, Einaudi, 2002, pp. 1337–1370. Furthermore, see
the classic of E. Sestan, Venezia Giulia. Lineamenti di una storia etnica e culturale, Roma,
Edizioni Italiane, 1947, now in G. Cervani (ed.), E. Sestan, Venezia Giulia. Lineamenti di
una storia etnica e culturale e il contesto storico-politico in cui si colloca l’opera, Udine, Del
Bianco, 1997.
4  For a departing point on these aspects of the history of Italy, as well as to get an extensive

bibliography, see firstly M. Garbari/A. Leonardi (eds.), Storia del Trentino, vol. V, L’età
contemporanea. 1803–1918, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2004; C. Fumian/A. Ventura , Storia del
Veneto, vol. II, Dal Seicento a oggi, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2004; and R. Finzi/C. Magris /G.
Miccoli (eds.), Storia d’Italia. Le regioni dall’Unità a oggi (above n. 3), 2 vol.

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 307

to the Second World War, aspired to a homogeneous national space, based on


the “Italianization” of the toponymy, of the names, of the education, and of the
law. At the beginning, there was a plan to build the national State, inspired by
the ideals of the nation, of the homeland, and of the brotherhood. Later, the plan
of building the Fascist revolution, inspired by the rhetoric of nationalism, race
and Roman tradition came to the forefront.
Nevertheless, apart from, and contrary to, these political and ideological is-
sues, there were technical and economic considerations which suggested ac-
cepting many institutions coming from the German Code and the Austrian
law; there were social and human considerations (as well as resistances) which
suggested keeping in force several regulations of the Habsburg law.
From this complex web of conflicting beliefs, a gradual process of harmoni-
zation began, combining the ADHGB and the Italian legal culture, which was
characterized, both in the 19th and in the 20th century, through “Italianization”
and “Germanization”, by acts of imposition and acts of integration. This pro-
cess appears to be grounded, in both periods, in three phases: nationalization
of the Austrian laws; partial “Italianization” of the law in force in the new ter-
ritories; and construction of a new Italian Commercial Code, through a partial
“Germanization”.

II. The ADHGB in the provinces of “Veneto”


and “Mantova”. Public law and commercial law
after the Italian unification

On 1 July 1863, by the “Einführungsgesetz” of 1862,5 Austria introduced the


first four books of the ADHGB in most territories of the Empire; while it always
considered the fifth book as a subject separate from the commercial law because
it was on the subject of maritime law.6 The Code approved by the German Fed-
eral Convention entered in force in the whole “Italian” part of the Habsburg
Empire,7 from what remained of the “Regno Lombardo-Veneto” (Veneto, Man-

5  Gesetz vom 17. December 1862, in RGBl. für das Kaiserthum Oesterreich 1863, no. 1,

pp. 1–13.
6 Actually, in 1857, Austria presented to the Nuremberg Commission a project made up

of 549 articles, where there was no space for the maritime law.
7  “Codice di commercio” – it is the exact form used in the Italian translation of the Code,

as reported by the judge of Venice’s “Tribunale commercial marittimo” G. Venturi , Il Co-


dice di commercio attivato nell’Austria col giorno 1. Luglio 1863, Venezia, Naratovich, 1863,
p. 1 – “valevole pei Regni di Boemia, Galizia e Lodomiria, coi ducati di Auschwitz e Zator
e col Granducato di Cracovia, pel Regno Lombardo-Veneto e pel Regno di Dalmazia, pegli
Arciducati dell’Austria al di sotto ed al di sopra dell’Enns, pei Ducati della Slesia superiore
ed inferiore, pei Ducati della Stiria, Carinzia, Carniola, Salisburgo e Bucovina, pel Margra-
viato di Moravia, per la Contea principesca del Tirolo e pel Vorarlberg, come pure per la Con-

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308 Ferdinando Mazzarella

tova)8 to the “Österreichisches Küstenland”: the counties of Tyrol, Gorizia and


Gradisca, Istria, Trieste and Dalmatia.9 In force of the §§ 1 and 2 of the law, the
Austrian legislator abolished all the laws and the orders in the field of the new
Code, all the commercial, bankruptcy, and promissory laws, even the first book
of the French Commercial Code, which was in force in the “Regno Lombar-
do-Veneto” since 1816.10
The passage of Veneto to Italy in 1866 did not change the situation since it
did not compromise the application of the ADHGB. However, the issue of the
unification of the commercial law in the new boundaries of the Italian Kingdom
immediately became a national case. According with the peace of Vienna, signed
with Italy on 3 October 1866, Austria delivered Veneto to the French general
Leboeuf, who forwarded it to Italy after the plebiscites.11 The unification of the

tea principesca di Gorizia e Gradisca col Margraviato d’Istria e per Trieste; città immediata
dell’Impero, col suo territorio”.
8 See R. Giusti , ‘Il Veneto. 1859–1866’, in F. Valsecchi/A. Wandruszka (eds.), Austria e

province italiane 1815–1918. Potere centrale e amministrazioni locali, Bologna, Il Mulino,


1981, pp. 47–83, and P. Preto (ed.), Il Veneto austriaco. 1814–1866, Treviso, Fondazione
Cassamarca, 2000. On the origins and the history of “Lombardo-Veneto” see M. Berengo,
‘Le origini del Lombardo-Veneto’, Rivista storica italiana 83 (1971), 525–544, N. Dacrema
(ed.), Il Lombardo-Veneto. 1814–59. Storia e cultura, Pasian di Prato, Campanotto, 1996,
B. ­M azohl Wallnig , Österreichischer Verwaltungsstaat und administrative Eliten im
Königreich Lombardo-Venetien 1815–1859, Mainz, Zabern, 1993, M. Meriggi , Breve sto-
ria dell’Italia settentrionale dall’Ottocento a oggi, Roma, Donzelli, 1996, idem , ‘Il Regno
Lombardo-Veneto’, in G. Galasso (ed.), Storia d’Italia, vol. XVIII, tomo II, Torino, Utet,
1987, and idem , Amministrazione e classi sociali nel Lombardo-Veneto (1814–1848), Bologna,
Il Mulino, 1983.
9 See G. Cervani , ‘Il litorale austriaco dal Settecento alla “Dezemberverfassung” del

1867’, in F. Valsecchi/A. Wandruszka (eds.), Austria e province italiane 1815–1918 (above n. 8),
pp. 85–175, and P. Dorsi , ‘La storia istituzionale del Litorale Austriaco’, Quaderni Giuliani
di Storia 15 (1994), 35–44. To get some detailed informations concerning the historiography
on the old French Illyrian Provinces, see E. Capuzzo, Alla periferia dell’Impero. Terre ita-
liane degli Asburgo tra storia e storiografia (XVIII–XX secolo), Napoli, ESI, 2009, pp. 31–41.
About the legal complexity of this area S. Solimano, ‘Il governo della complessità. Rifles-
sioni in margine alla politica del diritto asburgica e napoleonica in Adriatico (1808–1871)’,
in P. Caroni/R. Ferrante (eds.), La codificazione del diritto fra il Danubio e l’Adriatico: Per
i duecento anni dall’entrata in vigore dell’ABGB (1812–2012), Torino, Giappichelli, 2015,
pp. 97–118.
10  A. Padoa Schioppa , ‘La legislazione commercialistica nell’Italia preunitaria’, in idem ,

Saggi di storia del diritto commerciale, Milano, LED, 1992, pp. 142–143.


11  Italy approved the treaty of peace by means of the regio decreto 14 ottobre 1866, n. 3253.

For a first essential overview on this historical moment, see G. Candeloro, Storia dell’Italia
moderna, vol. V, La costruzione dello Stato unitario, Milano, Feltrinelli, 1968, pp. 278–296.
For a very short summary, B. Mazohl , ‘Die Habsburgermonarchie 1848–1918’, in T. Win-
kelbauer (ed.), Geschichte Österreichs, 2nd ed., Stuttgart, Reclam, 2016, pp. 426–431. Con-
cerning this delicate phase of the Habsburg Empire, struggling with the Hungarian issue,
see Á. Deák , From Habsburg Neo-Absolutism to the Compromise. 1849–1867, New York,
Columbia University Press, 2008, P.M. Judson, The Habsburg Empire. A New History,
2016, German ed., Habsburg. Geschichte eines Imperiums. 1740–1918, München, Beck, 2017,

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 309

public and administrative law, crucial for the political image of a united Ital-
ian State, followed faster paces and simpler procedures than the unification of
the civil and commercial law as it was much more influenced by technical and
human considerations.
As the Austrians delivered the last territories (the so called “quadrilatero”,
Palmanova and Venezia) and left Veneto to France, the Italian Government in-
stalled, even before the plebiscites and the annexation, extraordinary authorities,
the so called “regi commissari”, to govern the provinces still formally subjected
to the Austrian occupancy.12 They were temporary authorities directly subordi-
nated to the Italian Government, something prefiguring the ordinary “prefects”.
The plebiscites took place some months later,13 while the formal annexation ful-
filled in November 1866, when the Italian King, Vittorio Emanuele II, declared
that “the provinces of Venezia and Mantova are integral part of ­Italy’s Kingdom”
and set the time for the applying of the Italian constitution (the so called ­“Statuto
albertino”).14 In December 1866, in force of two decrees, the Italian Govern-
ment introduced in the new provinces of Veneto and Mantova the municipal
and provincial legislation, suppressed the “commissari regi” and extended the
legal system of the Kingdom.15 In 1868, the Chambers of commerce of the new
provinces were reorganized based on the Italian legislation.16
On the contrary, the unification of the commercial law was much more com-
plicated, reasoned, and discussed. The pace was slower and the procedures were
more problematic. The General German Commercial Code and the Austrian
promissory law, as well as the ABGB and the civil laws,17 remained in force in

pp. 281–344, and H. Rumpler / P. Urbanitsch (eds.), Die Habsburgermonarchie 1848–


1918, Bd. VII, Verfassung und Parlamentarismus, 1. Teilband, Verfassungsrecht, Verfassungs-
wirklichkeit, zentrale Repräsentativkörperschaften, Wien, VÖAW, 2000.
12  Regio decreto 18 luglio 1866, n. 3064.
13  According with the royal decree of 7 October, the plebiscites took place on 21 and 22

October 1866.
14  It was the regio decreto 4 novembre 1866, n. 3300, consisting only of 3 articles, approved

by the Parliament in force of the law of 18 July 1867, n. 3841.


15  Regio decreto 2 dicembre 1866, n. 3352, and regio decreto 9 dicembre 1866, n. 3365.
16  Regi decreti 1 marzo 1868 n. 4273 and 4274. The Italian law was the n. 680 of 6 July 1862.

For a history of the Italian “Camere di commercio” see A. Amorth , ‘Le Camere di com-
mercio dall’unità d’Italia alla riforma: Assetto istituzionale e ruolo’, in R. Gianolio (ed.), Le
Camere di commercio fra Stato e Regioni: Prospettive di riforma nei recenti disegni di legge,
Milano, Giuffrè, 1979, pp. 29–43, and A. Sciumè , Organizzare l’economia: Le Camere di
commercio nell’Italia contemporanea fra diritto commerciale e diritto amministrativo, Bres-
cia, Promodis, 2000, particularly pp. 55–88.
17  The literature available on this topic is more extensive. See for instance P. Caroni/R.

Ferrante (eds.), La codificazione del diritto fra il Danubio e l’Adriatico (above n. 9); P.
Caroni/E. Dezza (eds.), L’ABGB e la codificazione asburgica in Italia e in Europa: Atti
del Convegno Internazionale, Pavia, 11–12 ottobre 2002, Padova, Cedam, 2006; M.R. Di
Simone , Percorsi del diritto tra Austria e Italia (secoli XVII–XX), Milano, Giuffrè, 2006,
pp. 159–183 and 223–242; idem , ‘Le Code civil autrichien en Italie’, Revue historique de droit

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310 Ferdinando Mazzarella

the new provinces of Veneto and Mantova. They were translated, applied, ana-
lyzed, and commented on.18 Italy recognized them as national laws, it converted
them into Italian laws, “sacrificing”, in the name of progress and integration, the
essential purpose of a singular commercial law. It was the first step in the long
process of fusion between German and Italian commercial law. It was the be-
ginning of a phase of nationalization (in the sense of national acknowledgment)
of the Austrian and German law.

III. The debate about the unification


of the commercial law. Nationalization vs integration;
political aims vs cultural resistances

The “sacrifice”, however, did not last long. The issue of the unification of the
commercial law in the new provinces of Veneto and Mantova became one of
the most relevant topics both in the parliamentary and in the cultural debate.
An “antithesis” suddenly divided the political class: the dilemma was between
a pure extension of the Italian legislation, i.e. a “pure and simple unification”,
as supported by the parliamentary commission, and a ”legislative unification“
prepared by “some reforms”, both necessary and “essential” to modernize the
Italian law, as the Minister of Justice Pironti advocated.19 It was between pro-
ceeding to the unification imperatively by overlooking the problems arising
from the difference of laws and considering the expectations, the aspirations,
and the necessities of the new territories by listening to the opinions of the tribu-
nals and of the jurists of Venezia and Mantova. On one side were the principles
of unification and nationalization followed by the new Italian State, while on
the other side were the principles of integration and resistance expressed by the
old Habsburg provinces. 20

français et étranger 89 (2011), 115–125; F. R anieri , ‘Das ABGB in der Geschichte des ita-
lienischen Zivilrechts: Zugleich ein vergessenes Kapitel in der Geschichte des kontinentalen
Privatrechts’, in B. Dölemeyer/H. Mohnhaupt (eds.), 200 Jahre ABGB (1811–2011): Die ös-
terreichische Kodifikation im internationalen Kontext, Frankfurt am Main, Klostermann,
2012, pp. 199–234.
18  See for instance Venturi , Il Codice di commercio (above n. 7) and G. Zanella , Il

diritto commerciale austriaco, Venezia, Cecchini, 1866.


19  This is the way one of the members of the Italian Parliament, Luciano Righi , illustrat­

­ed the problem during the “Discussione dello schema di legge per l’unificazione legislativa
delle provincie venete e mantovana”, Tornata alla Camera dell’8 giugno 1869, in Rendiconti
del Parlamento italiano, Discussioni della Camera dei Deputati, Sessione del 1867–68, vol. X,
2nd ed., Firenze, Botta, 1869, p. 10950.
20  About the difficult “balance” between the political centre and the “Länder” of the

Empire, see H. Rumpler / P. Urbanitsch (eds.), Die Habsburgermonarchie 1848–1918,


Bd. VII, Verfassung und Parlamentarismus, 2. Teilband, Die regionalen Repräsentativkör-
perschaften, Wien, VÖAW, 2000, and E. Sestan, Centralismo, federalismo e diritti storici

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 311

According to some members of Parliament, such as Francesco Piccoli (from


Padova), a simple and complete unification of the laws would neglect the modern
aspects of the commercial and promissory law in force in Veneto, and would, for
a mere ideal of legal unity, worsen the commercial life of the Veneto people. The
German promissory law was a model of perfection; it had “purified the prom-
issory note from anything that altered its nature, from everything that was not
essential, that could weaken its strength, reduce the warranty, impede or slow
down the circulation”.21 The German promissory law could be called “the prom-
issory law of the 19th century”, while the French law “was nothing else but the
promissory law of the 17th century”. 22 And the same applies for the “German
commercial Code”, which had not created a new law, but codified – thanks to
a “Commission” composed by the “traders” and the “most expert men in the
field of commercial law” – “what was already law in the merchant’s awareness”.23
The General German Commercial Code was a “legislative monument of great
importance, which, being common to all of Germany, and also being the basis
of the Swiss federal project”, had a particular meaning because of the vastness of
the territory to which it extended. 24 It was necessary to reflect before abolishing
it “in silence”, even more so considering that it was done “in such a way as to
be able to combine with any civil law, and therefore also with the one” that was
going to be introduced in Veneto. 25 It would be really “strange” that the Ital-
ian legislator would decide to “deprive the Venetians” of the modern contracts
used in the commercial praxis; to “deprive the Venetians”, for a pure question
of “symmetry”, of such an important “benefice”. 26
Germany, as another member of Parliament observed, was a model not only
for the contents of its commercial law, but also because it had understood the
importance of adopting a common commercial code despite being politically
divided in several States. It would be a paradox that Germany, which was frag-
mented in several political entities, had achieved the unification of the com-

nell’ultimo mezzo secolo (1868–1918) della monarchia asburgica, in F. Valsecchi/A. Wand­


ruszka (eds.), Austria e province italiane 1815–1918 (above n. 8), pp. 301–330.
21  F. Piccoli (Discussione dello schema di legge per l’unificazione legislativa, Tornata

alla Camera dell’8 giugno 1869, in Rendiconti del Parlamento italiano (above n. 19), p. 10960).
And furthermore it was possible to say – as observed F. Mittermaier , ‘Die Leistungen der
Gesetzgebung, Rechtsprechung und Wissenschaft in Italien auf dem Gebiete des Handels-
rechts’, ZHR 4 (1861), 327, 333 – “daß die deutsche Wechselordnung sich bald durch ganz
Italien Bahn brechen wird”. See about the German promissory law K. von Pannwitz , Die
Entstehung der Allgemeinen Deutschen Wechselordnung, Frankfurt am Main, Lang, 1999,
(about Austria p. 189).
22  Piccoli (Discussione dello schema di legge per l’unificazione legislativa, Tornata alla

Camera dell’8 giugno 1869, in Rendiconti del Parlamento italiano (above n. 19), p. 10960).
23  Ibidem.
24  Ibidem.
25  Ibidem.
26  Ibidem.

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312 Ferdinando Mazzarella

mercial law and consequently the economic prosperity, while Italy, which was
“one sole nation”, seriously considered the possibility of having “two different
codes”. 27
Mancini, the father of the future Commercial Code, offered the best synthesis
of the complex situation, assuming a very clear point of view.28 He believed the
“legal unification of the new Kingdom” an absolute priority, a “supreme neces-
sity”, but at the same time he considered the “repugnance shown by a part of
the Venetian public opinion to accept the current Codes of the Italian Kingdom,
without improvements and reforms understandable and even legitimate”.29 The
General German Commercial Code was universally acknowledged as a great
“progressive masterpiece” and the introduction in the “provincie venete” of the
Italian Commercial Code in its place raised a crucial question: “did the Italian
Parliament really want to deprive Veneto of the better legislation that it has and
to replace it with an inferior one”?30
The resistance of Veneto was grounded on technical, economic and social
considerations, more than on political, ideological and historical considera-
tions.31 The reasons of the “heated resistance opposed by Veneto against the
legislative unification” were clearly illustrated in a short editorial that appeared

27  This was the categorical opinion of another member of the Italian Parliament, Fran-

cesco Pasqualigo ( Discussione dello schema di legge per l’unificazione legislativa, Tornata
alla Camera del 9 giugno 1869, in Rendiconti del Parlamento italiano (above n. 19), pp. 10985–
10986).
28  The bibliography concerning Mancini is extensive. See firstly E. Jayme , Pasquale

Stanislao Mancini. Internationales Privatrecht zwischen Risorgimento und praktischer Ju-


risprudenz, Ebelsbach, Gremer, 1980; Y. Nishitani , Mancini und die Parteiautonomie im
Internationalen Privatrecht. Eine Untersuchung auf der Grundlage der neu zutage gekom-
menen kollisionrechtlichen Vorlesungen Mancinis, Heidelberg, Winter, 2000; L. Nuzzo, ‘Da
Mazzini a Mancini. Il principio di nazionalità tra politica e diritto’, Giornale di Storia costi­
tuzionale 14 (2/2007), 161–186; E. Mongiano , ‘Pasquale Stanislao Mancini. Nazionalità
e diritto internazionale all’Università di Torino’, Rivista italiana per le scienze giuridiche
(2013), 363–377; E. Mura , All’ombra di Mancini. La disciplina internazionalistica in Italia
ai suoi albori, Pisa, ETS, 2017; O. Zecchino (ed.), Pasquale Stanislao Mancini. L’uomo lo
studioso il politico, Napoli, Guida, 1991. For some biographical entries: L. Nuzzo, ‘Pasquale
Stanislao Mancini’, in Enciclopedia italiana di scienze, lettere ed arti, ottava appendice, Il
contributo italiano alla storia del pensiero, Diritto, Roma, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana,
2012, pp. 307–310; C. Storti , ‘Mancini, Pasquale Stanislao’, in E. Cortese/I. Bi­rocchi/A.
­Mattone/M. Miletti (eds.), Dizionario Biografico dei Giuristi Italiani (XII–XX secolo), vol. II,
Bologna, Il Mulino, 2013, pp. 1244–1248; S. Torre , ‘Mancini, Pasquale Stanislao’, in M.
­Stolleis (ed.), Juristen. Ein biographisches Lexikon. Von der Antike bis zum 20. Jahrhundert,
München, Beck, 1995, pp. 404–405.
29  P.S. Mancini (Discussione dello schema di legge per l’unificazione legislativa, Tornata

alla Camera del 9 giugno 1869, in Rendiconti del Parlamento italiano (above n. 19), p. 11149).
30  Ibidem, pp. 11149–11150.
31  More generally, about the difficulties deriving from the encounter between Veneto so-

ciety and Italian law, see Di Simone , Percorsi del diritto tra Austria e Italia (above n. 17),
pp. 242–275.

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 313

in 1872 in the weekly publication L’Eco dei Tribunali. The “opposition was not
at all inspired by a feeling of affection for the Austrian laws”, but by the consid-
eration that the “Italian legislation” appeared “very defective”, so that it would
not be fair that Veneto suffered twice: first because of the introduction of the
faulty Italian law and secondly because of a new change due to the reforms car-
ried out by the Italian legislator.32 It was much more reasonable to do “before
the improvements” of the Italian law and afterwards to extend the Italian legis-
lation to the new provinces.33

IV. From the (partial) extension of the Italian


commercial law to the new Commercial Code of 1882

Nevertheless, in 1871, the Italian Government decided to extend the Italian


legislation to the new provinces of Veneto and Mantova.34 It was the beginning
of the second phase of the encounter between Italian and German commercial
laws, a phase of “Italianization” of the law in force in the new territories. Or,
better still, a phase of partial “Italianization”. Indeed, the purpose of a common
national legal order – with no differences, boundaries and inequalities – impli-
cated the extension of the Italian legislation to the new provinces, but not the
abrogation of all of the Habsburg one.
The Italian Parliament approved the law for unification, mandating that the
Commercial Code and the Merchant Navy Code of 1865, as well as several other
laws, decrees, and codes, be extended to the “Provinces of Venezia and Man-
tova”.35 At the same time, it saved the most distinguishing and innovative part
of the “German” commercial legal order: the law for unification of 1871 kept
the Austrian “Wechselordnung” of 25 January 1850 and the later additions and
modifications in force.36 It also saved the “commercial and maritime Tribunal”

32  ‘Ai lettori’, L’Eco dei Tribunali (7 luglio 1872).


33  Ibidem.
34  “Legge sull’unificazione legislativa delle Provincie Venete e di Mantova”, 26 marzo

1871.
35 Art. 1 n. III and n. IV of the law of 26 March 1871. About the 1865 Italian Codes con-

cerning commercial law, see the coeval detailed analysis of F. Mittermaier , ‘Die neueste
Handelsgesetzgebung in Italien, besonders das Handelsgesetzbuch vom 25. Juni 1865’, ZHR
11 (1868), 314–341, but more particularly 317–338. For contemporary literature see Mazza-
rella , Un diritto per l’Europa industriale (above n. 2), pp. 75–86. Furthermore, A. Aqua-
rone , L’unificazione legislativa e i codici del 1865, Milano, Giuffrè, 1960, pp. 21–23 and 63–
73; C. Ghisalberti , La codificazione del diritto in Italia. 1865–1942, 12th ed., Roma-Bari,
Laterza, 2008, pp. 60–62; Padoa Schioppa , ‘La legislazione commercialistica’, in idem ,
Saggi di storia del diritto commerciale (above n. 10), pp. 154–156; idem , Italia ed Europa nella
storia del diritto, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2003, p. 544; U. Santarelli , Mercanti e società tra
mercanti, Torino, Giappichelli, 1989, pp. 14–15.
36 Art. 1 n. III of the law of 26 March 1871. Concerning the law of 1871 and the “Wech-

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314 Ferdinando Mazzarella

of Venezia, renamed “Tribunale di commercio”, and framed in the Italian ju-


dicial system, while a later decree in June set the temporary regulation on the
matter of commercial capacity, company law, promissory law.37
Once the legislative unification was approved, the Venetians tribunals re-
spected the new legal system, implementing the Italian commercial law38 or ex-
ceptionally the German commercial law.39 The “people” of Veneto – especially
those actively involved in “dealing with the laws”, like judges, jurists, professors,
and notaries – “sincerely adapted themselves to the new legal order, encouraged
in all event its fulfillment”, contained any dissatisfaction, and “became familiar”
as soon as possible with the new laws.40 Nevertheless, “this familiarization with
the new laws” did not mean that “the new legislation was welcomed, respected
and appreciated”.41 It was exactly “the opposite”.42 The new laws were obeyed
because it was “necessary” and compulsory, but the public opinion considered
them antiquated, inadequate, and unsuitable.43 The new provinces of Veneto
and Mantova wanted “national laws and legal orders, not copies of the French
or the German legislations”;44 they wanted “laws suitable for the time, not the
reproduction of laws conceived for other ages”, not laws that at that point were
an “anachronism”.45
Therefore, the second phase of the encounter between Italian and German
commercial laws lasted only eleven years. It indeed took place while a new
phase, the third, was already developing. The resistance of Veneto pushed the
Italian Government to draft a new commercial code, which made full use of the
modern aspects of the German commercial law. The contact with the ADHGB
and with the Austrian commercial law in force in the new provinces for Italy
became the excuse for a new codification of commercial law. Mancini grasped
this opportunity – the connection between the annexation of the new provinces
and the realization of a new commercial code – already in 1869, when he became
the “interpreter of the reasonable repugnance” shown by the new provinces “to

selrecht”, see F. Mittermaier , ‘Uebersicht über die Italienische Handelsgesetzgebung von


1871’, ZHR 18 (1873), 102–103.
37  Regio decreto 25 giugno 1871. About the history of the Italian “Tribunali di com-

mercio”, see C. Ciancio , Mercanti in toga. I Tribunali di Commercio nel Regno d’Italia
(1861–1888), Bologna, Pàtron, 2012; eadem , ‘Unité de la juridiction et unité de la nation. Les
priorités de la justice dans le débat italien sur les tribunaux de commerce (1861–1888)’, Histo-
ria et ius (1/2012), paper 9, 1–19; G.S. Pene Vidari , ‘Tribunali di Commercio e codificazione
commerciale carloalbertina’, Rivista di storia del diritto italiano 44–45 (1971–1972), 27–124.
38  Corte d’appello di Venezia, 16 maggio 1872, L’Eco dei Tribunali (29 settembre 1872).
39  Corte d’appello di Venezia, 26 aprile 1872, L’Eco dei Tribunali (11 agosto 1872).
40  ‘Ai lettori’, L’Eco dei Tribunali (7 luglio 1872).
41  Ibidem.
42  Ibidem.
43  Ibidem.
44  Ibidem.
45  Ibidem.

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 315

lose a more advanced commercial legislation” than the Italian one, especially in
the promissory law, and “to accept more rigid forms and contrary to the customs
of their commercial businesses”.46
Among the different proposals, according with Mancini, the right solution
was neither to extend simply the Italian Commercial Code, nor to leave the
Habsburg one, but to first improve all of the Italian Commercial Code, so as
to make it “more acceptable and relished to the people of Veneto”.47 The idea
of Mancini consisted not simply in “transferring” the German legislation into
the “Italian commercial Code” of 1865 in the fields of promissory notes and
contract of carriage, but in drafting a new code based on the several advantages
of the German commercial law (also the registry of businesses, the commercial
name, the commission contract, the shipping contract, etc.), on the novelties
introduced by the other European countries (England, Spain, etc.) and on the
progress in science and economy.48
Before 1866, as Mancini explained, a “Germanization” of the Italian commer-
cial law would have been probably impossible, because the public opinion did
not accept that in the field of the commercial law “the Italian legislation drew
near the German legislation”, especially adopting the German promissory law.
But later – after “the annexation of Veneto”, “the trade agreements with the Aus-
trian Empire,49 the more intense trade relationships with the States of Central
Europe, the improved economic conditions of the country, and the legislative
improvements of the other European countries”, it became indispensable for
­Italy to have “a new commercial code, which was fully convenient to its glorious
legal traditions and its renovated destinies”.50 On 9 September 1869 the Minister
of Justice Pironti established a legislative committee in charge of studying which
changes to introduce in the royal Commercial Code of 1865. In 1873, the com-
mission published a preliminary project, which was sent to the Tribunals, the
law Faculties, and the Chambers of commerce. In 1877, as Minister of Justice,
Mancini presented the final project of the Italian new Commercial Code, which
entered in force, after amendments and revisions, on 1 January 1883.51
46  Mancini himself remembered it in the report through which he presented, on 18 June

1877, the final project of the Italian Commercial Code, in A. Marghieri (ed.), I motivi del
nuovo codice di commercio italiano ossia Raccolta completa di tutti i lavori preparatorii delle
commissioni, vol. IV, Napoli, Marghieri, 1885, p. 6.
47  Mancini (Discussione dello schema di legge per l’unificazione legislativa, Tornata alla

Camera del 9 giugno 1869, in Rendiconti del Parlamento italiano (above n. 19), p. 11150).
48  Ibidem, pp. 11152–11153.
49  Handels- und Schiffahrts-Vertrag zwischen Oesterreich und Italien vom 23. April 1867,

in RGBl. für das Kaiserthum Oesterreich 1867, no. 108, pp. 225–276. About the treaty see U.
Cova , Commercio e navigazione a Trieste e nella Monarchia asburgica da Maria Teresa al
1915, Udine, Del Bianco, 1992, pp. 195–201; and for the following treaties pp. 201–225.
50  ‘Relazione Mancini’, tornata del 18 giugno 1877, in Marghieri (ed.), I motivi del

nuovo codice di commercio (above n. 46), vol. IV, p. 5.


51  On the origins and the history of the Italian Commercial Code of 1882, see Aqua-

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316 Ferdinando Mazzarella

V. The Italian Commercial Code of 1882 between


innovations and confirmations, reception and originality

The new Italian Commercial Code was not a copy of the German one.52 The
Italian legislator only approved the institutions of the Austrian commercial law
that he considered not only more advanced, but also more compatible with the
social, cultural and economic state of Italy. It was after all not too difficult to
integrate the innovations into the framework of the new Code, because both the
German Code of 1861 and the Italian Code of 1865 reproduced as a whole the
French conception of the commercial law. The objective system grounded on the
relationship between “commerçant” and “actes de commerce”, “Kaufmann” and
“Handelsgeschäfte”, “commerciante” and “atti di commercio”.53 It was therefore
not a question of changing system, but of modernizing some aspects of the old
conception, the aspects that the praxis had shown to be outdated.
First of all, the regulation of the contracts drawn up by a merchant and a
non-merchant, the so called “atti unilaterali”, the “einseitige Handelsgeschäfte”,
subjected both parties to the commercial law for the first time under art. 277 of
the General German Commercial Code. While the Commission of the prelim-
inary project of 1872, in spite of the complaints of Vidari and Mancini, refused
the German regulation and confirmed the old regulation of the Commercial
Code of 1865 – with the application of the commercial law for the merchant and
of the civil law for the non-merchant54 – the Commission of the final project,

rone , L’unificazione legislativa e i codici del 1865 (above n. 35), pp. 63–73; R. Braccia , Un
avvocato nelle istituzioni. Stefano Castagnola giurista e politico dell’Italia liberale, Milano,
Giuffrè, 2008, pp. 57–110; Ghisalberti , La codificazione del diritto in Italia (above n. 35),
pp. 154–162; Mazzarella , Un diritto per l’Europa industriale (above n. 2), pp. 86–95; A.
Padoa Schioppa , ‘La genesi del Codice di commercio del 1882’, in idem , Saggi di storia
del diritto commerciale (above n. 10), pp. 157–203. See also the short reports by A. Asquini ,
‘Codice di commercio’, in Enciclopedia del diritto, vol. VII, Milano, Giuffrè, 1960, p. 251, and
‘Dal Codice di commercio del 1865 al Libro del Lavoro del Codice civile del 1942’, Rivista del
diritto commerciale 65 (1967), I, 3. For a German coeval perspective see F. Mittermaier ,
‘Das Italienische Handelsgesetzbuch vom Jahre 1882’, ZHR 29 (1884), 132–181.
52  About the structure and the innovations of the Code of 1882 see Mazzarella , Un

diritto per l’Europa industriale (above n. 2), pp. 86–106.


53  On the system of the commercial law in the 19th century Europe, as adopted in the

ADHGB, see Flume, Comparative Legal History 2 (2014), 45, 56–64; G. Köbler , ‘Die
Wissenschaft des gemeinen deutschen Handelsrechts’, in H. Coing/W. Wilhelm (eds.), Wis-
senschaft und Kodifikation des Privatrechts im 19. Jahrhundert, Bd. I, Frankfurt am Main,
Klostermann, 1974, pp. 277–296; Mazzarella , Un diritto per l’Europa industriale (above
n. 2), pp. 50–58.
54  “La Commissione deliberava „di non accettare la proposta che nei contratti che costi­

tuiscono un atto di commercio per una sola delle parti sia applicabile la legge commer­ciale
anche per l’altra parte, salve le eccezioni che si riputeranno necessarie, e commette al sen.
Cabella di proporre di accordo col Presidente una nuova formula che esprima colla possibile
precisione il concetto direttivo dell’art. 91 del Codice attuale”, in Marghieri (ed.), I motivi

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 317

after the disapprovals of the Chambers of commerce (which claimed “the sys-
tem of the German Code”)55 and the arguments of jurists and members of Par-
liament, finally accepted the German model.56 According with Mancini, it was
not only unproductive and unfair, but also technically “impossible” that “the
same contract would be subjected to different laws”, the same purchase agree-
ment valid for one contractor and invalid for the other, the same obligation sub-
jected to different prescription periods, and “the same proof admissible for one
contractor and inadmissible for the other”.57 The way suggested by “art. 277 of
the German Commercial Code”, also evoked by the Swiss Code project,58 was
definitely the best.59
Moreover, the Italian legislator approved the German regulation on promis-
sory notes.60 “The promissory note, according to the Austrian promissory law,
was at the same time” – as the Court of Venice summarized in 1872 – “title and
document of the obligation, so an act sui generis, not subjected to the general
legal principles of the other contracts”.61 Italy, as declared during the legislative
works, chose the model of “German law”, not in the sense of a mere translation,
but in the sense of adopting “the essential concept” and of importing the Ger-
man principles on the basis of the Italian peculiarities.62

del nuovo codice di commercio (above n. 46), vol. II, parte I, Verbale XL, Prima tornata del
29 aprile 1870, p. 145. The art. 57 of the preliminary project of 1872, therefore, confirmed the
art. 91 of the Code of 1865: “se un atto è commerciale per una delle parti e non per l’altra, le
obbligazioni che ne derivano sono regolate dal diritto commerciale per la prima e dal diritto
civile per la seconda”. Against this confirmation fought Mancini and above all Vidari, who
looked at the “art. 277 of the German commercial Code” (ibidem, Verbale XXXVII, Seconda
tornata del 27 aprile 1870, pp. 136–137). See, on art. 91, the coeval point of view of Mitter-
maier , ZHR 11 (1868), 314, 323.
55  Particularly the Chambers of commerce of Brescia and Pisa, see Marghieri (ed.), I mo-

tivi del nuovo codice di commercio (above n. 46), vol. II, parte II, p. 53. About the role played
by the Chambers of commerce during the approval of the new Code see Padoa ­S chioppa ,
‘La genesi del Codice di commercio del 1882’, in idem , Saggi di storia del diritto commerciale
(above n. 10), pp. 172–176.
56 Art. 54 and art. 870.
57  Marghieri (ed.), I motivi del nuovo codice di commercio (above n. 46), vol. IV, Rela-

zione del Ministro di Grazia e Giustizia e dei Culti od esposizione dei motivi del Progetto
del Codice di commercio pel regno d’Italia presentato al Senato del Regno nella tornata del
18 giugno 1877 dallo stesso Ministro di concerto col Ministro di Agricoltura e Commercio
(Maiorana-Calatabiano), pp. 102–103.
58 Art. 204 of the Swiss Project: “les dispositions du présent livre sont applicables à tous

les contrats qui concernent des objets mobiliers, à moins que la loi n’en ait restreint l’effet aux
actes de commerçants”.
59  P.S. Mancini , in Marghieri (ed.), I motivi del nuovo codice di commercio (above

n. 46), vol. II, parte I, Verbale XL, Prima tornata del 29 aprile 1870, p. 144.
60  Di Simone , Percorsi del diritto tra Austria e Italia (above n. 17), pp. 270–275. See al­

ready Mittermaier , ZHR 29 (1884), 132, 155–160.


61  Corte d’appello di Venezia, 9 agosto 1872, L’Eco dei Tribunali (20 ottobre 1872).
62  Words pronounced by Antonio Caveri, President of the Commission, on 12 Octo-

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318 Ferdinando Mazzarella

As a result of the new Code of 1882, the promissory note earned full auto-
nomy and became a separate act, unconnected from any commercial relation-
ship, underlying relationship, or the quality of the subject who signed. While
the Commercial Code of 1865 provided for the “promissory notes signed also
by non-merchants”, but only “as long as they depended on a commercial rela-
tionship” (art. 2 n. 6 and 7), and considered as “commercial acts” the promissory
notes signed by merchants, but only “when they did not depend expressly on
other sorts of causes” (art. 3),63 the Commercial Code of 1882 considered simply
the “promissory notes” (art. 3 n. 12), with no more reference to the cause, with
no more reference to the nature of the underlying relationship, whether civil or
commercial.64 Even in Italy, the promissory note even became “das Papiergeld
der Kaufleute”, according with the definition of Einert.65
From now on, the promissory note was “merely a formal obligation to pay
or make to pay a certain amount of money, in a certain place and at a certain
time to its possessor”.66 The principle of autonomy entered in the Italian legal
system, producing profound changes, improvements and consequences. It sim-
plified trade and facilitated payments, but it also created interpretative problems
and raised discussions among the lawyers. The promissory note was autono-
mous from the underlying relationship, but it was, however, considered “as a
commercial act”, so that the non-merchant, for example “a buyer of books”, who
would frequently sign promissory notes, would be considered as a merchant
and therefore subjected to bankruptcy.67 In Germany and in Austria, where the
“Konkursrecht” did not distinguish between merchants and non-merchants, it
was not a problem, but in Italy the risk was to extend the heavy consequences
of the bankruptcy, which until that point had been limited to merchants, also
to those who were in fact non-merchants.68

ber 1869, in Marghieri (ed.), I motivi del nuovo codice di commercio (above n. 46), vol. II,
parte I, p. 10.
63 See Mittermaier , ZHR 11 (1868), 314, 328–331.
64 See S. Torre , ‘Diritto dei commerci e libertà del credito: La disciplina della cambiale

nei codici di commercio del Regno d’Italia’, Materiali per una storia della cultura giuridica
34 (2004), 73–91.
65  C. Einert, Das Wechselrecht nach dem Bedürfnis des Wechselgeschäfts im neunzehnten

Jahrhundert, Leipzig 1839 (Neudruck Aalen, Scientia Verlag, 1969), § 15, p. 76. About Einert’s
theory and the consequences of the principle of autonomy, see von Pannwitz , Die Entste-
hung der Allgemeinen Deutschen Wechselordnung (above n. 21), pp. 57–70.
66  It was the definition achieved by the Legislative Commission, in Marghieri (ed.), I

motivi del nuovo codice di commercio italiano (above n. 46), vol. II, parte I, p. 10.
67  Ibidem, p. 106.
68  On the debate developed in Italy about the bankruptcy law, see F. Mazzarella ,

‘Fallimento, autonomia contrattuale, impresa: Itinerarii e figure fra Otto e Novecento’, in F.


Di Marzio/F. Macario (eds.), Autonomia negoziale e crisi d’impresa, Milano, Giuffrè, 2010,
pp. 161–204, but especially 180–184. And about the German bankruptcy legal system (Ger-
man Konkursordnung of 10 February 1877, Austrian Concursordnung of 25 December 1868),

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 319

Moreover the introduction of the principle of autonomy elicited in the Italian


doctrine a discussion about the concept of “cause” and the possible exceptions
of the borrower, opening the way, by means of practice and customs, to the
blank promissory note.69 Against the possibility of the blank promissory note,
some lawyers objected to a strict and formal interpretation of art. 251 of the
Commercial Code of 1882, which reproduced the text of art. 4 of the Austrian
“Wechselordnung” of 1850. Art. 251 included among the necessary elements of
the promissory note the “amount of money to pay”, the “expiration date”, and
the “signature”, among others, and art. 254, similar to art. 7 of the Austrian law,
excluded the special effects of the promissory note if any of these requirements
were not met.70 But the problem of the “Blankowechsel”, as Brunetti explained,
had already been solved thanks to the legislation, the doctrine and the jurispru-
dence of Germany and Austria.71 The misunderstanding at the confused “be-
ginnings of the promissory system” governing Italy was the consequence of the
exaggerated weight given to the formal perspective coming from the principle
of autonomy.72 Nevertheless, the provision of art. 251 actually pertained to the
later moment of the presentation, not to the previous moment of the issue.73
Last but not least, the Italian legislator accepted the regulations about the
stipulation of the contract – the “Vertragsschluß-Vorschriften” of the ADHGB
– into the new Commercial Code.74 It was an epochal transition, both for the
commercial and for the civil law.75 The General German Commercial Code for
the first time dealt with the matter of the encounter between the wills of the con-
tractors, and regulated the forms, the effects, and the duration of the proposal

A. Meier , Die Geschichte des deutschen Konkursrechts, insbesondere die Entstehung der
Reichskonkursordnung von 1877, Frankfurt am Main, Lang, 2003.
69  See for instance A. Bruschettini , Trattato dei titoli al portatore, Torino, Bocca, 1898,

n. 429, pp. 333–343; A. Marghieri , La cambiale, 4th ed., Napoli, Marghieri, 1886, pp. 25–35;
L. Papa D’Amico, I titoli di credito surrogati della moneta: Formazione ed indole storico-giu-
ridica, Catania, Giannotta, 1886, pp. 260–272; A. R amella , Trattato dei titoli all’ordine,
Firenze, Cammelli, 1899, pp. 103–104; U. Sorani , Della cambiale e dell’assegno bancario,
Roma, Dante Alighieri, 1896, vol. I, § 86, pp. 93–105.
70 Art. 254: “la mancanza di alcuno dei requisiti essenziali stabiliti negli articoli precedenti

esclude la qualità e gli effetti speciali della cambiale, salvi gli effetti ordinarii dell’obbliga-
zione, secondo la sua natura civile o commerciale”.
71  A. Brunetti , La cambiale in bianco: Contributo allo studio del diritto cambiario,

Torino, Bocca, 1908, pp. 66–68. See for instance C.S. Grünhut, Wechselrecht, Leipzig,
Duncker & Humblot, 1897, Band I, § 64, pp. 443–450; O. Wächter , Das Wechselrecht des
Norddeutschen Bundes und der allgemeinen deutschen Wechselordnung in den deutschen und
deutsch-österreichischen Ländern, Leipzig, Breitkopf und Härtel, 1869, § 24, pp. 185–190; W.
Hartmann, Das Deutsche Wechselrecht, Berlin, Guttentag, 1869, § 32, pp. 103–106, and § 98,
pp. 261–265.
72  Brunetti , La cambiale in bianco (above n. 71), p. 65.
73  Ibidem, p. 67.
74  Bühler , Die Entstehung der allgemeinen Vertragsschluß-Vorschriften (above n. 2).
75  Flume, Comparative Legal History 2 (2014), 45, 56–57.

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320 Ferdinando Mazzarella

and acceptance. At the bottom of the legislation, there was the individualistic
anthropology of the 19th century, which emphasized the role of the will.76 The
French Civil Code stopped at the definition and the effects of the contract; the
General German Commercial Code went further: it conferred prevalence to the
will, compared to the declaration (art. 278); it kept the effects of the proposal
though the death of the merchant proposer (art. 297) in force; it regulated the
validity and the binding character of the proposal (artt. 318, 319, 320, 321); and
it established when an acceptance with conditions or restrictions became a new
proposal (art. 322).
Not every rule flew into the Italian Commercial Code, but enough to outline
a first important regulation on the subject.77 Art. 36 regulated the encounter of
the proposal and the acceptance between distant contractors, the stipulation
of the contract through the “immediate execution”, the terms and the limits to
revoke the proposal, the start of the compulsory effects of the one-sided acts.
Art. 37, on the tracks of art. 322 ADHGB, and established that a conditioned or
limited acceptance was equivalent to a new proposal.78
On the contrary, the Italian legislator preferred to include the matters of ju-
risdiction, bankruptcy and maritime law (though the existence of the “Codice
per la Marina mercantile” of 1865) in the Commercial Code, confirming in this
way the French Code structure rather than choosing the Austrian one. He in-
troduced innovations which were typical and exclusive to Italy, like the abolition
of the governmental authorization for the constitution of the business limited
companies (art. 91), the introduction of the cooperative societies (artt. 219–228),
and the wide inclusion of the building enterprise (art. 3 n. 7). He stabilized,
differently from France and Germany, the list of the commercial acts at the be-
ginning of the Code (artt. 3–6).79 He explicitly refused several elements of the
German and Austrian commercial law, like the extension of the bankruptcy to
non-merchants and the right of women, sanctioned by § 6 of the Austrian “Ein-
führungsgesetz” of 1862 (derogatory of art. 7 ADHGB), to do business in force
of a decision of the tribunal, even against the husband’s approval:80 this freedom
76  About the individual freedom in the commercial law of contract, see L. Moscati ,

‘Sulla libertà contrattuale tra Code de commerce e Codice italiano del 1882’, in G. Alpa (ed.),
Seminari del Consiglio Nazionale Forense (2008–2009), Roma, Istituto poligrafico e zecca
dello Stato, 2010, pp. 83–93.
77 See Mittermaier , ZHR 29 (1884), 132, 143–144.
78 Art. 37: “un’accettazione condizionata o limitata equivale a rifiuto della proposta ac-

compagnato da nuova proposta”.


79 See Mazzarella , Un diritto per l’Europa industriale (above n. 2), pp. 86–95.
80  Zanella , Il diritto commerciale austriaco (above n. 18), p. 57. Already in force of art.

79 of the transitory regulations introduced by the Royal decree of 25 June 1871, the legislator
established that “per la continuazione dell’esercizio del commercio, impreso prima dell’at-
tuazione del nuovo codice di commercio, non è necessaria alla donna maritata ed al minore
emancipato l’autorizzazione prescritta dagli articoli 4 e 7 del codice medesimo, se già vi erano
autorizzati secondo le leggi anteriori”, however “anche il detto esercizio potrà in ogni tempo

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 321

of women, even to sign the promissory note, was a “too heavy offense to the hus-
band’s dignity” since it clashed against the Italian tradition of the housewife and
the image of a woman who was more reserved than the German one.81 Moreover,
in spite of art. 275 ADHGB and of § 3 of the Austrian “Einführungsgesetz” of
1862, the Italian legislator acknowledged the commercial nature of the contracts
on real estates (art. 3 n. 3). And he decided against the establishment of a “Han-
delsregister”,82 “based on the title II of the book I of the German commercial
Code”; against the “introduction in the Code of the German institution of the
commercial register”, because “the multitude of registrations required by the
German Code” continuously hampered the business and gave the commercial
class a privileged subjective status typical of the old corporate era.83
Above all, the Italian legislator refused the German regulations about the
“Firma eines Kaufmanns”, i.e. the name, “unter welchem er im Handel seine
Geschäfte betreibt” (art. 15 ADHGB). 84 The regulations of the ADHGB about
the commercial name (artt. 22–24) were much more than a simple regulation
of the relationship between name and business, because they offered the ex-
cuse – together with the regulations on representation (artt. 41, 42 and 47) and
the ones on commercial nature of the contracts connected to an enterprise
(artt. 272–274) – for developing a reasoning about the unity of the commercial
business.85 The German doctrine – thanks to Endemann, Puchelt, Ladenburg,
Kosack, Behrend, Otto Hahn, and Friedrich Hahn – began to suppose the ex-
istence, besides the single contracts, of an economic and legal “Organismus”
with “sein eigenes Leben”,86 “ein Ganzes mit ganz besonderer Abgränzung, mit
ganz bestimmten Zwecken”,87 “die gewerbliche Thätigkeit des Kaufmannes in
ihrer Gesammtheit”.88 Something new – under the forms of “Handelsgewerbe”,
“Handelsgeschäft”, “Betrieb” – was beginning in the European commercial law,

farsi cessare rispettivamente dal marito, dal genitore emancipante, e dal consiglio di famiglia
o di tutela, a norma dell’art. 10 del codice”.
81  Pasqualigo (Discussione dello schema di legge per l’unificazione legislativa, Tornata

alla Camera del 9 giugno 1869, in Rendiconti del Parlamento italiano (above n. 19), p. 11148).
82 See V. Afferni , ‘Registro delle imprese: Cenni storici e di diritto comparato’, in No-

vissimo Digesto Italiano, vol. XV, Torino, Utet, 1968, particularly pp. 178–195.
83  Commissione del 1869, in Marghieri (ed.), I motivi del nuovo codice di commercio

(above n. 46), vol. II, parte I, Verbale XII, Tornata del 17 ottobre 1869, p. 37.
84  About the protection of the commercial name in the 19th century Italy and its connec-

tions with the law of trademarks, see F. Mazzarella , Nel segno dei tempi. Marchi, persone
e cose dalla corporazione medievale all’impresa globale, Milano, Giuffrè, 2005, especially
pp. 146–158.
85 See Mazzarella , Un diritto per l’Europa industriale (above n. 2), pp. 65–74.
86  W. Endemann , Das deutsche Handelsrecht, Heidelberg, Bangel & Schmitt, 1865, § 15,

pp. 73–74.
87  O. Hahn , Das Handelsrecht nach dem allgemeinen deutschen Handelsgesetzbuch,

Stuttgart, Julius Maier, 1869–1875, n. 17, p. 53.


88  J.F. Behrend , Lehrbuch des Handelsrecht, Band I, Berlin und Leipzig, Guttentag,

1886, § 37, p. 202.

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322 Ferdinando Mazzarella

something that prefigured the birth of the concept of “Unternehmen”,89 but that
the Italian doctrine received only in part through the development of the con-
cept of “azienda”.90

VI. “Venezia Giulia”, “Trentino”, “Alto-Adige”.


The Italian legal culture in the Austro-Hungarian Empire
at the beginning of the 20th century

The process of harmonization between German and Italian commercial law


followed similar itineraries even in the 20th century, for the provinces involved
in the second period of the annexations. While Veneto became a territory of
Italian law, the other provinces claimed by the Italian “Irredentism” remained
under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, still fully subjected to the
Austrian commercial law. 91 In the regions corresponding to the current “Ven-
ezia Giulia”, “Trentino” and “Alto-Adige”, the tribunals, though the Italian
language, applied the General German Commercial Code (in the Austrian ver-
sion) and the Austrian promissory law. Bankruptcy, according to the German
tradition, was applied to merchants and non-merchants. The commercial mat-
ter was administered by the jurisdiction of special Tribunals, which Italy had
abolished in 1888. The maritime law, in conformity with the Austrian tradition,
remained outside the Commercial Code, without a modern national regulation,
still based on the second book of the French Commercial Code, on the French
Ordonnance de la Marine of 1681, and on Maria Theresa’s Politisches Edikt der
Handelsschiffahrt of 1774.92

89 See J. Conradi , Das Unternehmen im Handelsrecht: Eine rechtshistorische Unter­

suchung vom preußischen Allgemeinen Landrecht (1794) bis zum Allgemeinen Deutschen
Handelsgesetzbuch (1861), Heidelberg, Decker, 1993, particularly pp. 184–225, and F. Maz-
zarella , ‘La scoperta di un paradigma complesso. L’“Unternehmen” nel diritto commerciale
e nella dottrina austro-tedesca del primo Novecento’, Quaderni fiorentini per la storia del
pensiero giuridico moderno 39 (2010), 299–386.
90  A. Marghieri , Il diritto commerciale italiano esposto sistematicamente, Napoli, Mar-

ghieri, 1884, vol. I, § 26, p. 239. For a history of the concept of “azienda” in the Italian doc-
trine see Mazzarella , Un diritto per l’Europa industriale (above n. 2), pp. 106–110 and 213–
216; idem , ‘L’impresa’, in Il contributo italiano alla storia del pensiero, Diritto (above n. 28),
pp. 438–445; A. Vanzetti , ‘Trent’anni di studi sull’azienda, I, Considerazioni introduttive.
La dottrina italiana’, Rivista del diritto commerciale 56 (1958), I, 32–64.
91  For a clear historical overview see D.I. Rusinow, Italy’s Austrian Heritage. 1919–

1946, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1969, pp. 7–50. More recently M. Cattaruzza ,
L’Italia e il confine orientale. 1866–2006, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2007, pp. 15–68, English ed.,
Italy and Its Eastern Border, 1866–2016, New York and London, Routledge, 2017, pp. 7–49.
92  For a history of the relationship between commercial law and maritime law in the star-

ting 19th century see R. Ferrante , Codificazione e cultura giuridica, 2nd ed., Torino, Giap-
pichelli, 2011, pp. 155–189.

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 323

The role of the Italian legal culture was very active, probably indispensable
for the correct functioning of the Austrian law in a context of Italian influence.93
The German Commercial Code was known and studied thanks to a good num-
ber of translations.94 The Austrian commercial law was analyzed, interpreted
and annotated by Italian lawyers, judges and professors.95 The education of the
new jurists – compromised by the Austrian refusal to acknowledge the Italian
universities – was guaranteed, particularly in the field of the commercial law,
thanks to Italian Schools, Institutions and Foundations.96
It is illuminating to understand the idea that the Italian jurists had of their
own role, the tableau “painted” in 1913 by Francesco Menestrina, professor of

93  For a detailed analysis about the cultural and political participation in the “Italian”

area of the Habsburg Empire between the 19th and the 20th century, see H. Krahwinkler ,
‘Die Landtage von Görz-Gradisca und Istrien’, and U. Cova , ‘Der Landtag der reichsun-
mittelbaren Stadt Triest und ihres Gebietes’, both in H. Rumpler/P. Urbanitsch (eds.), Die
regionalen Repräsentativkörperschaften (above n. 20), respectively pp. 1873–1918 and 1919–
1949; B. Marušič , ‘Die Vereinstätigkeit im österreichischen Küstenland (Triest, Görz-Gra-
disca, Istrien)’, in H. Rumpler/P. Urbanitsch (eds.), Die Habsburgermonarchie 1848–1918,
Bd. VIII, Politische Öffentlichkeit und Zivilgesellschaft, 1. Teilband, Vereine, Parteien und
Interessenverbände als Träger der politischen Partizipation, Wien, VÖAW, 2006, pp. 541–585;
E. Winkler , Wahlrechtsreformen und Wahlen in Triest 1905–1909. Eine Analyse der poli-
tischen Partizipation in einer multinationalen Stadtregion der Habsburgermonarchie, Mün-
chen, Oldenbourg, 2000. For a more general overview H.P. Hye , Das politische System in der
Habsburgermonarchie. Konstitutionalismus, Parlamentarismus und politische Partizipation,
Praha, Karolinum, 1998.
94  See for instance the following editions: Codice di commercio generale, con note di E.A.

Peck, Innsbruck, Libreria accademica wagneriana, 1877; Codice di commercio generale, con
note di E.A. Peck, seconda edizione per cura di B. Giannella, Innsbruck, Libreria accademica
wagneriana, 1885; Il Codice di commercio generale unitamente alle leggi complementari e alle
principali disposizioni ministeriali nella materia con raffronti per l’uso pratico, per cura di A.
Benussi, Innsbruck, Libreria accademica wagneriana, 1911.
95  See for example A. Benussi , Istituzioni di diritto commerciale austriaco, Innsbruck,

Libreria accademica wagneriana, 1909, and G. Piccoli , Elementi di diritto commerciale,


Trieste, Schimpff, 1895.
96  See about this issue the excellent work of R. Ferrante , ‘La cultura giuridica nelle

“Nuove provincie”: Temi e dibattiti nella Venezia Giulia fino all’unificazione legislativa
(1928)’, in G. de Vergottini/D. Rossi/G.F. Siboni (eds.), Fenomenologia di una macroregi-
one: Sviluppi economici, mutamenti giuridici ed evoluzioni istituzionali nell’Alto Adriatico
tra età moderna e contemporanea, vol. I, Percorsi storici e storico-giuridici, Milano, Leone,
2012, particularly pp. 417–430. And more generally, concerning the “italienische Universitäts-
frage”, A. Ara , ‘La questione dell’Università italiana in Austria’, Rassegna storica del Risor-
gimento 60 (1973), 52–88 and 252–280, and V. Calì , ‘Dalla difesa della specificità nazionale
all’affermazione a livello europeo: L’avventura dell’Università’, in A. Leonardi/ P. Pombeni
(eds.), Storia del Trentino, vol. VI, L’età contemporanea. Il Novecento, Bologna, Il Mulino,
2005, pp. 75–130. Austria followed partially a different policy with “Lombardo-Veneto” at
the beginning of the 19th century, as shown by the foundation in 1816 of the review Biblioteca
italiana: see M. Neusius , Herrschaftslegitimation und Kulturtransfer in der habsburgischen
Lombardei. Die Zeitschrift Biblioteca italiana und die deutsche Kultur (1815–1830), Frank-
furt am Main, Lang, 2017.

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324 Ferdinando Mazzarella

civil procedure at the University of Innsbruck from 1901 and professor of civil,
commercial, and maritime law in Trieste at the Fondazione Revoltella’s School
from 1913. In the propitious atmosphere created by the “magnificence of the
trade of Trieste” – he explained with emphatic tones – it was only thanks to the
“Italians of Austria”, successors of “Carlo Antonio Martini” and “Francesco
Luigi Zeiller”, that the institutions and the rules of the Austrian commercial
law found their best expression and application.97 In the “Italian” areas, more
than anywhere else, the Austrian laws, immediately after their entry in force,
showed their completeness and perfection, as well as their gaps, obscurities and
inconsistencies.98 The experiences enhanced the experiences, the jurisprudence
improved, the legislative critique got more daring, so that a new material – col-
lected by the newspapers, the Chambers of commerce and the museums – con-
tributed to the improvement of the legislative works.99 No longer “Martini”,
the “giant with the wide breast” and “the dominant’s pose”, but “one thousand
pygmies”, who like small ants tried and retried, added a detail and removed an-
other detail, until they managed either to save or to eliminate an ill legislative
plant.100 Trieste was “a spectacular hotbed”;101 the Italians formed, in the field
of the law, “the lively part of the Austrian organism”.102

VII. From the First World War to the second period


of annexations

The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire meant the collapse of an entire


world, or rather, of the old European world, “die Welt von Gestern”, as Stefan
Zweig and other novelists explained.103 In consequence of the “Great War”, “we

 97  F. Menestrina , Gli Italiani nello sviluppo del diritto austriaco, Prolusione al corso

pubblico di diritto civile tenuto nel 1913–1914 presso la “Scuola Superiore di Commercio di
fondazione Revoltella” in Trieste per incarico dell’i.r. Ministero del Culto e dell’istruzione,
in Scuola Superiore di Commercio: Fondazione Revoltella in Trieste, anno XXXVII, 1913–14,
Trieste, Balestra, 1914, pp. 9–12.
 98  Ibidem, pp. 12–13.
 99  Ibidem, p. 13.
100  Ibidem.
101  Ibidem.
102  Ibidem, p. 22.
103  S.  Zweig , Die Welt von Gestern: Erinnerungen eines Europäers, Bermann-Fisher,

Stockholm, 1944. See A. Apollonio , Dagli Asburgo a Mussolini: Venezia Giulia 1918–
1922, Gorizia, LEG, 2001, pp. 15–42. On the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire,
crushed by the independence movements and the events of the war, see firstly the following
works: Judson, Habsburg. Geschichte eines Imperiums (above n. 11), pp. 491–576; M. Rau-
chensteiner/J. Broukal , Der erste Weltkrieg und das Ende der Habsburgermonarchie
1914–1918. In aller Kürze, Wien Köln Weimar, Böhlau, 2015; H. Rumpler (ed.), Die Habs-
burgermonarchie 1848–1918, Bd. XI, Die Habsburgermonarchie und der Erste Weltkrieg,

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 325

lost a whole world, our world” – commemorated Joseph Roth – that’s why that
war was called “World War”.104 While “Old Austria” shattered, lost its monar-
chic identity, suffered deep mutilations, Vienna became a capital out of propor-
tion, like a sort of “hydrocephalus”.105
In this framework, at the end of the war, Italy obtained, after the armistice
signed in Villa Giusti (3 November 1918), some of the last territories claimed by
the “Irredentism”: “Zara”, “Venezia Tridentina” and “Venezia Giulia”, in ac-
cordance with the nationalist names coined in 1863 by the Jewish linguist from
Gorizia Graziadio Isaia Ascoli.106
In 1920, following the treaties of Saint-Germain and Rapallo,107 Italy an-
nexed “Venezia Tridentina”,108 “Venezia Giulia” (including part of Istria) and
“Zara”,109 while Fiume was occupied and finally annexed in 1924.110 After a
period of military occupancy, run by military governors nominated by the
military Chief of Staff (1918–19),111 Italy transferred the control of the new
territories under the civil administration, through extraordinary officials di-
rectly subjected to the Government:112 in 1919 a “Central Office” for the “New
Provinces” was established to coordinate the process of legal and administrative
reorganization, while the new “Extraordinary Commissioners” took the place

1. Teilband, Der Kampf um die Neuordnung Mitteleuropas, Wien, VÖAW, 2016 (see for an
Italian perspective especially E. Tonezzer /S. Wedrac , ‘Die Italiener des Österreichischen
Künstenlandes, Dalmatiens und des Trentino’, pp. 919–964); 2. Teilband, H. Rumpler /A.
Schmied-Kowarzik (eds.), Weltkriegsstatistik Österreich-Ungarn 1914–1918. Bevölke-
rungsbewegung, Kriegstote, Kriegswirtschaft, Wien, VÖAW, 2014; L. Valiani , La dissolu-
zione dell’Austria Ungheria, Milano, Il Saggiatore, 1966; G. Wawro, A Mad Catastrophe:
The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire, New York, Basic
Books, 2014.
104  J. Roth , Die Kapuzinergruft, 1938, English ed., The Emperor’s Tomb, New York,

Paperbook, 2013, p. 38.


105  E. Canetti , Die Fackel im Ohr: Lebensgeschichte 1921–1931, München Wien, Han-

ser, 1980, pp. 136–137.


106  G.I. Ascoli , ‘Le Venezie’, Museo di Famiglia (23 agosto 1863). See P. Purini , ‘Il

termine Venezia Giulia in funzione espansionistica e contro le minoranze dalle origini al


fascismo’, in R. Michieli/G. Zelco (eds.), Venezia Giulia: La regione inventata, Udine, Kappa
Vu, 2008, pp. 55–63.
107 Signed, respectively, on 10 September 1919 and on 12 November 1920.
108  Legge 26 settembre 1920, n. 1322.
109  Legge 19 dicembre 1920, n. 1778.
110  Regio decreto legge 22 febbraio 1924, n. 211.
111  Ordinanza 19 novembre 1918 del Comando supremo dell’Esercito n. 5000. See for a

complete exposition R. Pupo (ed.), La vittoria senza pace. Le occupazioni militari italiane
alla fine della Grande Guerra, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2014, and A. Visintin, L’Italia a Trieste:
L’operato del governo militare italiano nella Venezia Giulia 1918–19, Gorizia, LEG, 2000.
112  About the process of administrative and legislative unification see exhaustively E. Ca-

puzzo, Dal nesso asburgico alla sovranità italiana: Legislazione e amministrazione a Trento
e a Trieste (1918–1928), Milano, Giuffrè, 1992.

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326 Ferdinando Mazzarella

of the Military Governors of Trento and Trieste,113 assuming in a short period


the denomination of “civil commissioners”.114 In 1920, a Civil Commissioner
also replaced the Military Governor in Dalmatia.115 In 1921, for the first time,
the people of the new provinces took part in the national elections, so to be
involved with their own delegates in the process of legislative unification. The
year after a royal decree abolished the “Central Office for the New Provinces”
and replaced the General Civil Commissioners of “Venezia Tridentina”, “Ve­
nezia Giulia”, and Dalmatia with the ordinary Prefects.116 Finally, in 1923, the
Italian Government extended the municipal and provincial legislation to the
new provinces.117

VIII. New Provinces and old problems.


The temporary acknowledgment of the
Austrian Commercial Law

Once again, in the field of the commercial law (and more in general of the pri-
vate law), the process of legislative unification was much more complicated.
The comparison with the foreign law in force in the new Provinces suggested
that a careful analysis of the situation was necessary in order to consider which
Italian laws to “export” and which “Austrian” laws to import.118 In 1918, Italy
established a Commission (“Commissione reale per il dopo guerra”), divided
into two Subcommissions and several Sections, in order to study the mat-
ters concerning law, administration, society, and economy, and to propose the
necessary actions to pass from the state of war to the state of peace.119 In this

113  Decreto luogotenenziale 4 luglio 1919, n. 1081.


114  Regio decreto 24 luglio 1919, n. 1251. About the succession of special and ordinary
administration see A. Di Michele , ‘Tra uffici speciali e amministrazione ordinaria: l’Italia
e le zone di confine’, Qualestoria 2 (dicembre 2010), 21–44.
115  Regio decreto 17 dicembre 1920, n. 1788.
116  Regio decreto 17 ottobre 1922 n. 1353. See Capuzzo , Dal nesso asburgico alla sovranità

italiana (above n. 112), pp. 126–128.


117  Regio decreto 11 gennaio 1923, n. 9. See Capuzzo , Dal nesso asburgico alla sovranità

italiana (above n. 112), pp. 128–131.


118  For a first overview on this crucial period of the legal history of Italy, see G. Alpa ,

La cultura delle regole. Storia del diritto civile italiano, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2000, pp. 254–
262, R. Bonini , ‘Dal Codice civile del 1865 al Codice civile del 1942’, in I cinquant’anni
del Codice civile: Atti del convegno di Milano, 4–6 giugno 1992, vol. I, Relazioni, Milano,
Giuffrè, 1993, pp. 43–46, Ghisalberti , La codificazione del diritto in Italia (above n. 35),
pp. 232–243, and N. Rondinone , Storia inedita della codificazione civile, Milano, Giuffrè,
2003, pp. 17–44.
119  Foreseen already by the decreto luogotenenziale 16 settembre 1917, n. 1529, the Com-

mission was rearranged in force of the decreto luogotenenziale 21 marzo 1918, n. 361.

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 327

context, the Minister of Justice Mortara120 charged Vivante,121 in 1919, with


presiding over a Commission gathering the most known commercial lawyers
to prepare a project of a new Commercial Code, also taking into account the
Austrian legislation.122
In 1920, a new Royal Commission (“Commissione Reale per la revisione della
legislazione di guerra e la sistemazione legislativa delle Nuove Provincie”), pre-
sided over by Vittorio Scialoja, took the place of the 1918 Royal Commission and
began to work in order to inspect the war legislation and to promote the legis-
lative settlement of the new provinces.123 Two years later, a decree abolished the
Commission and introduced a Technical Committee, again presided by Scialoja,
to study how to unify the legislation in the new provinces and which reforms to
introduce into the Italian legislation.124 Scialoja himself, in 1918, recommended
to proceed “gradually” and “carefully” so that “the life of the people did not suf-
fer sudden and dangerous shakes”.125 First of all, it had to establish which part
of the Italian law would be extended and which of the existing law would be

120  Concerning Mortara, also to get some bibliography, see in particular M. Meccarelli ,

‘Lodovico Mortara’, in Il contributo italiano alla storia del pensiero, Diritto (above n. 28),
pp. 459–462, and N. Picardi , ‘Mortara, Lodovico’, in E. Cortese/I. Birocchi/A. Mattone/M.
Miletti (eds.), Dizionario Biografico dei Giuristi Italiani (above n. 28), vol. II, pp. 1383–1386.
121  From the end of the 19th century Cesare Vivante is the main character of the Italian

commercial legal culture, the reference point of at least two generations of lawyers: see in par-
ticular P. Grossi , Scienza giuridica italiana. Un profilo storico. 1860–1950, Milano, Giuffrè,
2000, pp. 51–57, M. Libertini , ‘Vivante, Cesare’, in E. Cortese/I. Birocchi/A. Mattone/M.
Miletti (eds.), Dizionario Biografico dei Giuristi Italiani (above n. 28), vol. II, pp. 2058–2062,
Mazzarella , Un diritto per l’Europa industriale (above n. 2), p. 96, n. 166, and passim, and
A. Sciumè , ‘Cesare Vivante’, in Il contributo italiano alla storia del pensiero, Diritto (above
n. 28), pp. 446–450.
122  Decreto ministeriale 8 novembre 1919. The Commission, according with art. 2, was

formed by the following jurists: Cesare Vivante, Angelo Sraffa, Leone Bolaffio, Gustavo Bo-
nelli, Ageo Arcangeli, Antonio Scialoja, Ulisse Gobbi, Corrado Medina, Guido Treves, Igino
Brocchi, Massimo Samoggia, Giuseppe Valeri, Alfredo Rocco, Umberto Navarrini, Alberto
Asquini, Gino Quarantotto. A decree of 11 December 1919 added also Marco Cassin and
Gino Olivetti, another decree of 28 December 1919 Adolfo Bertolini, a last decree of 31 Ja­
nuary 1921 Alberto Pavoni. See Mazzarella , Un diritto per l’Europa industriale (above
n. 2), pp. 229–232, and Padoa Schioppa , Italia ed Europa nella storia del diritto (above n. 35),
pp. 554–558.
123  Regio decreto 7 novembre 1920 n. 1673. See R. Bonini , Problemi di storia delle codi-

ficazioni e della politica legislativa, Bologna, Pàtron, 1973, pp. 147–164. About Scialoja, see in
particular M. Brutti , Vittorio Scialoja, Emilio Betti. Due visioni del diritto civile, Torino,
Giappichelli, 2013, and G. Chiodi , ‘“Innovare senza distruggere”: Il progetto italo-francese
di Codice delle obbligazioni e dei contratti (1927)’, in G. Alpa/G. Chiodi (eds.), Il Progetto
italo francese delle obbligazioni (1927). Un modello di armonizzazione nell’epoca della rico-
dificazione, Milano, Giuffrè, 2007, pp. 43–146.
124  Regio decreto 20 luglio 1922, n. 1038.
125  V. Scialoja , I problemi dello Stato italiano dopo la guerra, Bologna, Zanichelli, 1918,

pp. 301–302.

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328 Ferdinando Mazzarella

saved.126 It was not possible to move “from the old to the new regime” without
“a transition period, during which Austrian and Italian institutions coexisted,
giving form to a new local law, that later allowed a complete and perfect unifi-
cation with the other provinces of the Kingdom”.127
In a context of deep instability – due to the first actions of the Fascist Move-
ment and to the nationalistic tensions among Italians, Slavs and Germans – in-
itially Italy decided once again to keep the Austrian commercial legislation in
force.128 It was the beginning of a phase of nationalization, based on the acknow-
ledgment of the foreign law. The tribunals of the new Italian provinces, which
still kept their commercial nature, carried on applying the Austrian commer-
cial law, as well as the Italian Court of Cassation, which had replaced the Aus-
trian Supreme Court.129 Only in one field however, maritime law, Italy could
not wait, and in 1922 the Italian Government extended the second book of the
Italian Commercial Code to the new provinces, considering the maritime law
in force in the territories once pertaining to the House of Habsburg too old.130
The issue of the legislative unification of the new provinces again produced a
stalemate, requiring a time to reflect. Two publications, which appeared over the
same time span, perfectly depicted the complexity of the situation. On the one
hand, the programme announced in 1922 from Trieste by a new review, the Foro
delle Nuove Provincie, focused particularly on the point of view of the “Vene-
tian” people; while on the other hand, the speech delivered by Asquini in 1921
to open the course of commercial law at the Institution of commercial Studies
of Trieste expressed the point of view of the Italian legal culture.
The programme of the Foro delle Nuove Provincie described a critical si-
tuation. The annexations of “Venezia Giulia” and “Venezia Tridentina” to Italy,
without a legislative unification, had created, according with the editorial direc-
tion of the new review, a situation of “isolation” for the people of the old terri-
tories pertaining to the House of Habsburg: the collapse of the Empire broke
“every relationship with the judiciary and doctrinal movement, which flour-
ished around the Vienna Supreme Court of Justice”, but “the legislative barriers”
impeded at the same time “the access to the Italian jurisprudence and legal or-

126  Ibidem, p. 302.


127  Ibidem.
128  See the laws of annexations. Furthermore, in 1921, a decree suspended the entering

into force of the new laws and decrees in the new Provinces (art. 6, regio decreto legge 31
agosto 1921, n. 1269). To get an initial idea about the complexity of this historical phase, see
A. Apollonio, Venezia Giulia e Fascismo: Una società post-asburgica negli anni di consoli-
damento della dittatura mussoliniana 1922–1935, Gorizia, LEG, 2004; idem , Dagli Asburgo
a Mussolini (above n. 103); and Rusinow, Italy’s Austrian Heritage (above n. 91), pp. 51–160.
129  Regio decreto 4 novembre 1919, n. 2039.
130  See art. 2 of the regio decreto 6 agosto 1922, n. 1290, modified by the regio decreto 27

ottobre 1922, n. 1520. For an overview about this phase of the Italian commercial law see Ca-
puzzo, Dal nesso asburgico alla sovranità italiana (above n. 112), pp. 165–170.

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 329

der”.131 The legal culture of the “New Provinces” lived in a “closed circle”, with
no contacts neither with the Austrian Court, nor with the Roman Cassation.132
It was not possible to prolong this situation. It was necessary to proceed with
“the complete legislative unification within the new boundaries of the King-
dom”, but this unification, “especially for some law branches”, was a “delicate
and problematic work”, requiring a “shrewd and well worked-out study”, a
gradual development, impossible to improvise and to accelerate.133
The field of the commercial law was one of the most difficult to revolution-
ize. The necessity of the legislative unification and the convenience of accepting
the modern aspects of the German commercial law were the keywords of the
speech of Asquini. Differently from the “public laws with political character”,
it was not possible to achieve the legislative unity of commercial law through
the simple abrogation of the laws in force in the new provinces and the brutal
extension of the Italian laws.134 Not only in order to respect the traditions and
the customs of two important regions, but also because of the “undeniable qual-
ities of the Old Empire’s legislation”, that would have been unfair to eliminate
from the new provinces and unreasonable not to extend to the remaining part
of the country.135 The contact with the German law of the new provinces again
became the excuse to judge the commercial law of Italy and to assess what action
be taken, exactly like fifty years before. The Italian legislator had to do nothing
but “take advantage of the annexation in order to reform the weakest parts of
the Italian legislation”, to improve it with the regulations of the old Empire and
to apply a legislation renovated thanks to the institutes coming from the new
provinces throughout Italy.136
The comparison between the German Commercial Code and the Italian
Commercial Code was now certainly different from the past. While the Italian
Code of 1882, which had adopted many elements of the German culture, was a

131  ‘Manifesto-Programma’, Il Foro delle Nuove Provincie 1 (luglio 1922), 1.


132  Ibidem. In this context, in order to replace the Austrian administrative Tribunals
(“Verwaltungsgerichtshof”, “Reichsgericht” and “Oberstes Gefällsgericht”), Italy intro-
duced, in force of the regio decreto legge 24 novembre 1919, n. 2304, the 6th Section of the
“Consiglio di Stato”, which was abolished three years later, in force of the regio decreto
legge 7 gennaio 1923, n. 165. See F. Verrastro, ‘Il Consiglio di Stato e le “nuove province”:
La VI sezione dal dicembre 1919 al gennaio 1923’, and D. La Medica , ‘La VI sezione ”prov-
visoria“ del Consiglio di Stato (1919–1923): La giurisprudenza’, both in Il Consiglio di Stato:
180 anni di storia, Bologna, Zanichelli, 2011, respectively pp. 221–236 and pp. 237–247. And
concerning the influence of the German and Austrian models on the Italian system of admi-
nistrative justice, B. Sordi , ‘L’influenza tedesca’, in Le riforme crispine, vol. II, Giustizia
amministrativa, Milano, Giuffrè, 1990, pp. 533–565.
133  ‘Manifesto-Programma’, Il Foro delle Nuove Provincie 1 (luglio 1922), 1.
134  A. Asquini , ‘L’unificazione della legislazione commerciale entro i nuovi confini del

Regno’, Rivista del diritto commerciale 19 (1921), I, 252.


135  Ibidem.
136  Ibidem.

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330 Ferdinando Mazzarella

“front rank step in the history of the European commercial law”, the ADHGB
was now outdated, passed in Germany by the new HGB, in Switzerland by the
OR and in Austria by several special laws.137
Nevertheless, there were some institutions – on the one hand, “elements”
still “living” in the ADHGB, and on the other hand, new “experiences” intro-
duced by the later Austrian and German legislation – which again suggested to
“achieve the legislative unification within the new boundaries of the Kingdom”
by means of “a preliminary reform of the Italian Commercial Code, also based
on the Austrian law in force in the new provinces”:138 the businessmen register,
the business books, the legal retention, the unfair competition, the on hire pur-
chase, the commercial brokerage, the liability of railway companies for damages
to persons, but above all, the limited liability company, also known as the “Ge-
sellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung” (Gesetz vom 6. März 1906).139
The Italian businessmen asked for a corporate model, which included the
principle of the limited liability, without the heavy forms and the wide dimen-
sions of the business limited company. To bypass the gaps in the Italian legisla-
tion, they either used to found artificial business limited companies (comprising
two or three persons who appeared in artificial assemblies and boards of direc-
tors) or to found limited liability companies with the head in Trieste but the ac-
tivity conducted throughout other parts of Italy.

IX. The German influence on the Italian projects


of a Commercial Code

Once again the necessity of realizing the legislative unification for Italy was an
excuse to reform the commercial law and put aside an obsolete Code and to give
the new provinces “a better Code”.140 The Italian Government – as Vassalli ex-
plained analyzing the 1923 law authorizing the plan of a wide “recodification”
– decided to modernize the “national law” and to extend its Codes to the “new
provinces” only following a “work of revision and modification”.141 At the end

137  Ibidem, pp. 254–255.


138  Ibidem, pp. 256–257.
139  Asquini , Rivista del diritto commerciale 19 (1921), I, 257–258. About the unfair com-

petition see for Germany H. von Stechow, Das Gesetz zur Bekämpfung des unlauteren
Wettbewerbs vom 27. Mai 1896, Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 2002.
140  Asquini , Rivista del diritto commerciale 19 (1921), I, 260.
141  F. Vassalli , ‘Problemi della unificazione legislativa’, Rivista di diritto civile 15 (1923),

43. About Filippo Vassalli, considered the “father” of the 1942 Italian Civil Code, see in
particular G. Chiodi , ‘Filippo Vassalli’, in Il contributo italiano alla storia del pensiero, Di-
ritto (above n. 28), pp. 563–567, G.B. Ferri , ‘Vassalli, Filippo’, in E. Cortese/I. Bi­rocchi/A.
­Mattone/M. Miletti (eds.), Dizionario Biografico dei Giuristi Italiani (above n. 28), vol. II,
pp. 2022–2025, and P. Grossi , ‘Il disagio di un ‘legislatore’ (Filippo Vassalli e le aporìe

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 331

of this process, “one common law” would be in force both in the “old” and in
the “new territories of Italy”:142 a new contemporary law, in the awareness that
at times the Italian law was not as modern as the law in foreign countries.143
Thanks to this perspective, all the modern elements of the German commer-
cial culture could flow into the projects of a new Italian commercial code: before
in the Vivante project of 1922, later in the D’Amelio project of 1925.144
The reform – as Vivante explained presenting the first project of a commercial
code (1922) – was necessary because of “the annexation of the New Provinces”,
of the “gaps” and the “flaws” in the Italian legislation, of the need to promote the
credit and to fight the “unfair competition”.145 Thanks to the Commercial Code
and the special laws in force in the new provinces, which “summarized the fruit
of the great German culture”, Italy was able to arrange a modern commercial
law, provided with a “universal character” and a strong expansive capacity.146
The Commission nominated in 1919 by the Minister of Justice Mortara and
presided by Vivante drew fully from the ADHGB and from the Austrian com-
mercial laws.147 It acknowledged the right of women to do business, in conform-
ity with the law that abolished the husband’s authorization;148 it regulated the
definition and the consistency of the commercial name (artt. 12–16); it approved
the notion of “azienda”, regulating the relationship between commercial name
and business in force of a unitary perspective;149 it conferred legal effects to the

dell’assolutismo giuridico)’, Quaderni fiorentini per la storia del pensiero giuridico moderno
26 (1997), 377–405, now in idem , Nobiltà del diritto. Profili di giuristi, Milano, Giuffrè, 2008,
pp. 415–444.
142  Vassalli , Rivista di diritto civile 15 (1923), 43.
143  Ibidem, p. 44.
144  Mazzarella , Un diritto per l’Europa industriale (above n. 2), pp. 227–234.
145  C. Vivante , Ragioni della riforma, in Progetto preliminare per il nuovo Codice di

commercio, Milano, Hoepli, 1922, p. 198. See on the project Mazzarella , Un diritto per
l’Europa industriale (above n. 2), pp. 229–232.
146  Vivante , Ragioni della riforma, in Progetto preliminare (above n. 145), p. 198.
147  See especially the reports of the “Commissione ministeriale per la riforma della le-

gislazione commerciale”, Rivista del diritto commerciale 18 (1920), I, 100–139 and 259–276.
148  Legge 17 luglio 1919, n. 1176. See the perspective, still full of doubts and uncertainties,

of L. Bolaffio, ‘La moglie commerciante dopo la legge 17 luglio 1919 n. 1176’, Rivista del
diritto commerciale 18 (1920), I, 1–30.
149 Art. 17: “(1) chi continua un’azienda altrui può conservare l’uso della ditta esistente,

purché vi aggiunga una menzione del rapporto di successione. (2) Non si può cedere la ditta
senza cedere contemporaneamente l’azienda”; art. 18: “(1) in caso di cessione di un’azienda per
atto tra vivi, i debiti ed i crediti dell’azienda passano al nuovo titolare, salvo una dichiarazione
che limiti o escluda questo passaggio, pubblicata nel registro del commercio. (2) La responsa-
bilità del primo titolare per i debiti della azienda continua per il termine di tre anni dalla data
della trascrizione dell’atto di cessione nel Registro del commercio a termini dell’art. 22, se
l’obbligazione è scaduta prima della trascrizione, e dalla data della scadenza, se l’obbligazione
scade dopo tale trascrizione”; art. 22: “(1) il commerciante deve denunziare gli atti di dona­
zione, di vendita, di locazione, di pegno, di cessazione o liquidazione dell’azienda. (2) L’ob-
bligo della denunzia compete anche al compratore, al conduttore, al creditore pignoratizio”.

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332 Ferdinando Mazzarella

commercial register (art. 27); it arranged an homogeneous regulation to con-


tain the unfair competition; it expelled maritime and bankruptcy law from the
Code, opening to the eventuality of extending its effects to non-merchants;150
and above all it introduced a new type of society based on the limited liability
of the business partners.
The “società a garanzia limitata”, foreseen by artt. 144 ff. of the “Vivante pro-
ject” of 1922, was a direct inheritance of the “Austrian law in force in Venezia
Giulia and Tridentina”:151 it was a new corporate model, not to be considered
– as Asquini explained – “the variation” of a known company form, but a new
company form, with its “own economic function and its own application field”,
different from the ones of the other company forms (“società in nome collet-
tivo”, “società in accomandita”, “società anonima”).152 The new limited liability
society was neither “the arbitrary invention of a legislator”, nor the occasional
outcome of a combination “of abstract legal elements”, but “the fruit of a real
tendency of the modern economy”.153
Due to the annexations – as Mossa explained – Italy came into contact with
the provinces of “Venezia Giulia” and “Venezia Tridentina”, whose “commercial
law, in some institutions, like the register of commerce and the legal retention,
appeared so advanced that it had to be not only maintained, but also extended
to the whole of Italy”.154 As well as the “Vivante project” 1922, which never en-
tered into force, also the “D’Amelio project” of 1925 – Mossa went on – aspired
to “make national the most remarkable institutions that the Austrian legislation

150  Vivante , Ragioni della riforma, in Progetto preliminare (above n. 145), pp. 200–202.
151  A. Brunetti , Trattato del diritto delle società, III, Società a responsabilità limitata,
Società cooperative – Mutue assicuratrici, Milano, Giuffrè, 1950, p. 3. For a history of this
corporate type see L.F. Paolucci , ‘Le società a responsabilità limitata’, in P. Rescigno (ed.),
Trattato di diritto privato, vol. 17, Impresa e lavoro, tomo III, Torino, Utet, 1985, pp. 253–259,
and M. Stella Richter , ‘Antecedenti e vicende della società a responsabilità limitata’, in
A.A. Dolmetta/G. Presti (eds.), S.r.l. commentario, Milano, Giuffrè, pp. 5–12.
152  A. Asquini , ‘Relazione speciale al progetto preliminare per il nuovo codice di com-

mercio’, in Progetto preliminare (above n. 145), p. 307.


153  Ibidem. For an explanation about the choices of Vivante in the field of company law

and the criticisms addressed to his project by the economic world, see A. Padoa Schioppa ,
‘Disciplina legislativa e progetti di riforma delle società per azioni in Italia (1862–1942)’, in
idem , Saggi di storia del diritto commerciale (above n. 10), pp. 234–240.
154  L. Mossa , Saggio per il nuovo Codice di commercio, Sassari, Stamperia della Libreria

Italiana e Straniera, 1927, p. 2. Concerning the essential contribution that Lorenzo Mossa
gave to the theoretical development of the Italian commercial law, see P. Grossi , ‘Itinera-
rii dell’impresa’, Quaderni fiorentini per la storia del pensiero giuridico moderno 28 (1999),
Continuità e trasformazione: La scienza giuridica italiana tra fascismo e repubblica, vol. II,
in particular 1005–1030, and Mazzarella , Un diritto per l’Europa industriale (above n. 2),
pp. 235–266. For some detailed entries see A. Mattone , ‘Mossa, Lorenzo’, in E. Cor­tese/I.
Birocchi/A. Mattone/M. Miletti (eds.), Dizionario Biografico dei Giuristi Italiani (above
n. 28), vol. II, pp. 1392–1395, and I. Stolzi , ‘Lorenzo Mossa’, in Il contributo italiano alla
storia del pensiero, Diritto (above n. 28), pp. 529–536.

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 333

left to the new Provinces, by means of an attentive assimilation with the Italian
legal tradition, so as to provide a fitting and efficient law, instead of an untidily
reforming law”.155
In fact, the project D’Amelio of 1925 – prepared by the Subcommission “B”
of the main Royal Commission established in 1924, in order to reform the Ital-
ian Codes taking into account “the rules currently in force in the new Provin­
ces”156 – evoked several parallelisms not only with the ADHGB and with the
Austrian law, but also with the law developed in Germany after the introduc-
tion of the HGB, either because of the aspects concerning the structure and be-
cause of the aspects concerning the contents.157 The German jurists themselves,
like Gieseke, showed a great interest for the Italian project, since “in the field
of the commercial law the legal evolution of the two countries presented many
common aspects”.158 The project was definitely inspired by the structure of the
German Commercial Code.159 It confirmed once again, in conformity with the
recent experience of the German HGB, the separation between commercial and
civil law.160 It did not include the maritime law, but it included the bankruptcy
law. In this way it stifled the eventuality, still contemplated in the project of
1922, of following the German system and of extending the bankruptcy also
to non-merchants.

155  Mossa , Saggio per il nuovo Codice di commercio (above n. 154), p. 4. According to A.

Arcangeli , ‘Verso la nuova codificazione’, Rivista del diritto commerciale 24 (1926), I, 41,
“the deciding reason” to make a new project of a commercial code did not depend anymore
on “the annexations of the new provinces” (considering furthermore that the Italian legisla-
tion “was definitely not inferior” to the Austrian one), but on “the new spirit that invaded the
peninsula”, encouraging the improvement of every life’s “manifestation”.
156 Art. 1 legge 30 dicembre 1923, n. 2814, “Delega al Governo della facoltà di arrecare

opportuni emendamenti al Codice civile e di pubblicare nuovi Codici di Procedura civile, di


commercio e per la marina mercantile in occasione della unificazione legislativa con le nuove
Provincie”. The main Royal Commission was then established in force of the regio decreto 3
giugno 1924. The Subcommission “B” for the commercial code was composed of the following
lawyers: Cesare Vivante, Ageo Arcangeli, Camillo Ara, Alberto Asquini, Leone Bolaffio,
Gustavo Bonelli, Pietro Cogliolo, Gabriele Faggella, Salvatore Galgano, Ulisse Manara,
Alberto Marghieri, Antonio Raimondi, Angelo Sraffa, Davide Supino, Giuseppe Valeri. A
decree of 7 July 1924 added Edoardo Massari, Umberto Navarrini and Alfredo De Gregorio.
157  For a detailed history of the “progetto D’Amelio”, see Rondinone , Storia inedita

della codificazione civile (above n. 118), pp. 22–44. About the contents of the project see Maz-
zarella , Un diritto per l’Europa industriale (above n. 2), pp. 232–234. To read the text of
the project, see Codice di Commercio, vol. I, Progetto, Roma, Provveditorato Generale dello
Stato, 1927; definitely useful the reading of M. D ’Amelio, Criteri della riforma, (ibidem,
vol. II, pp. 7–13).
158  P. Gieseke , ‘Il progetto di codice di commercio italiano’, in S. Galgano (ed.), Annuario

di diritto comparato e di studi legislativi, vol. I, Roma, Anonima Romana Editoriale, 1927,
pp. 245–263, 246.
159  L. Mossa , ‘Saggio Critico sul Progetto del nuovo Codice di Commercio’, in S. Gal-

gano (ed.), Annuario di diritto comparato e di studi legislativi, vol. I (1927), pp. 170–244, 180.
160 See Rondinone , Storia inedita della codificazione civile (above n. 118), pp. 32–37.

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334 Ferdinando Mazzarella

With regard to the contents, the project followed in a whole the German
s­ ystem concerning the commercial name;161 made of the commercial regis-
ter “the foundation of all the commercial activity”,162 enhancing “the bond”
between the “Italian regulations” and the “German legal ideas”;163 and intro-
duced the legal retention and improved the regulation against the unfair com-
petition.164 Moreover it acknowledged the blank promissory note (art. 559), the
German institution which was becoming more and more part of the Italian legal
culture.165 Finally, it derived the “società a garanzia limitata” from the Austrian
“Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung”, but it compared it more to the general
partnership than to the business company (artt. 147–158), consequently raising
the doubts of Mossa, who warned that in this way – without duties of founda-
tion, form and information – “the interests of the business partners would pre-
vail over the interests of the creditors”.166

X. The legislative unification of the Italian


Commercial Law. From the extension of the
Italian Codes (1928) to the new Civil Code (1942)

However, just like in the previous annexation of Veneto, the technical paces of
the codification were not compatible with the political paces of the unification.
In 1928, in the same way as in 1871, Italy extended its own legislation to the new
provinces. Using the rhetorical tones of the Fascist propaganda, the Minister of
Justice Rocco illustrated that in “the 10th anniversary of the victory of Vittorio
Veneto”, the “process of legislative unification” finally achieved its “last step”,
being a “cornerstone of the Fascist programme”.167 Its fulfillment took place “in

161  Gieseke , Annuario di diritto comparato e di studi legislativi, vol. I (1927), pp. 246–248.
162  Mossa , Annuario di diritto comparato e di studi legislativi, vol. I (1927), p. 198.
163  Gieseke , Annuario di diritto comparato e di studi legislativi, vol. I (1927), p. 248.
164  Gieseke , Annuario di diritto comparato e di studi legislativi, vol. I (1927), pp. 249–251

and 262.
165  A. Brunetti , La cambiale ed il rapporto causale nella dottrina italiana, Prefazione a

K. Wieland, La cambiale ed i suoi rapporti col diritto civile, Padova, Cedam, 1931, pp. VII–
LVII.
166  Mossa , Annuario di diritto comparato e di studi legislativi, vol. I (1927), p. 208. See

Brunetti , Trattato del diritto delle società (above n. 151), pp. 10–14. On the innovations of
the project in the field of company law see Padoa Schioppa , ‘Disciplina legislativa e pro-
getti di riforma delle società’, in idem , Saggi di storia del diritto commerciale (above n. 10),
pp. 238–244.
167  A. Rocco , ‘Relazione di S.E. il Ministro Guardasigilli, Segretario di Stato per la giu-

stizia e gli affari di culto, a S.M. il Re’, in M. Szombathely (ed.), Le leggi di unificazione
del diritto privato e processuale per la Venezia Giulia e Tridentina, Padova, Cedam, 1931,
p. 1. A part from being a commercial lawyer, Alfredo Rocco was the author of the Criminal
Code (1930) and the “architect” of the Fascist corporate system: see in particular S. Bat-

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 335

perfect harmony with the aspirations of the new provinces’ people”, in whose
consciousness was well-established the idea “that the unity of the State did not
tolerate the coexistence of two different legal orders within the national bound-
aries”.168
Unlike the unification of the public law, which was achieved in 1923, the uni-
fication of the civil and commercial law was still waiting for the reform of the
national codes, “especially in order to value the possibility of approving some
institutes of the old Austrian legislation”.169 But ten years after Vittorio Veneto,
the suspension of the process of unification became “intolerable”, not only be-
cause through the keeping in force of the Austrian laws someone tried “to re-
vitalize absurd claims for autonomy”, but also because it now clearly appeared
that the Austrian legislation was not superior at all, instead showing many lacks
and defects.170 The “systematic extension of the Codes in force in Italy to the
new provinces” became at that point “necessary and not to be delayed”, in order
to create a true solidarity between the “economy of the new provinces” and the
one “of the remaining part of the Country” as well as to facilitate “the succes-
sive transition to the future Codes”, which were expected to be not too different
from the ones in force at that time.171
Due to these considerations, a royal decree of 1928 introduced the Italian
Commercial Code of 1882 (and the other Codes) in “Venezia Giulia”, “Venezia
Tridentina”, “Zara” and Fiume, together with all the executive regulations and
all the laws which modified or integrated the Code.172 The extension of the Ital-
ian Codes had to be interpreted in “a total sense”, meaning that the extension
of all the Italian laws related to all the fields involved.173 Among these laws, the
most prominent was the law of 1888, that abolished the commercial tribunals,

tente , Alfredo Rocco. Dal nazionalismo al fascismo. 1907–1935, Milano, FrancoAngeli,


2005, G. Chiodi , ‘Alfredo Rocco e il fascino dello Stato totale’, in I. Birocchi/L. Loschiavo
(eds.), I giuristi e il fascino del regime (1918–1925), Roma, Tre-Press, 2015, pp. 103–127, P.
Costa , ‘Rocco, Alfredo’, in E. Cortese/I. Birocchi/A. Mattone/M. Miletti (eds.), Diziona-
rio Biografico dei Giuristi Italiani (above n. 28), vol. II, pp. 1701–1704, E. Gentile , Le ori-
gini ­dell’ideologia fascista. 1918–1925, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1996, pp. 453–460, G. Speciale ,
­‘Alfredo Rocco’, in Il contributo italiano alla storia del pensiero, Diritto (above n. 28), pp. 559–
562, and P. Ungari , Alfredo Rocco e l’ideologia giuridica del fascismo, Brescia, Morcelliana,
1963.
168  Rocco , ‘Relazione’, in Szombathely (ed.), Le leggi di unificazione (above n. 167), p. 1.
169  Ibidem, pp. 1–2.
170  Ibidem, pp. 2–3.
171  Ibidem, p. 3.
172 Art. 1, regio decreto 4 novembre 1928, n. 2325 (“Disposizioni per l’unificazione legi-

slativa nei territori annessi al Regno”).


173  Rocco , ‘Relazione’, in Szombathely (ed.), Le leggi di unificazione (above n. 167),

p. 4.

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336 Ferdinando Mazzarella

and the law of 1903, which regulated the composition with the creditors and the
small bankruptcies.174
Following the introduction of the Codes, all the laws in force in the old
Austro-­Hungarian provinces were abrogated,175 except, once again, those reg-
ulations that were too advanced to be removed. In order to “minimize the up-
set provoked by the transition from the old to the new legislation”, the Italian
Government eventually decided to avoid an “absolute and mechanical” exten-
sion and to keep in force the institutions which were deeply-rooted in the legal
awareness and in the local economy of the new provinces, as well as in accord-
ance with the developing lines of the Italian codification.176
In effect, the Italian choice depended much more on technical and economic
interests, than on “a due respect” for the legal identity of the new provinces.177
The legislative unification – as Asquini, the relator of the law, observed – was
a wise political measure, but also the “direction sign for future Italian laws”.178
In the field of commercial law, therefore, the Italian Government, together with
the arbitration in force in Trieste’s Exchange, saved the Austrian law of 1906 on
limited liability companies,179 which was at that time the most advanced and dis-
tinguishing institution of the Austrian commercial law.180 Thanks to the limited
liability companies (already foreseen by both the commissions for the reform of
the Code), it was actually possible to “remove the great inconveniences caused
by the abuse of the small business companies”.181
This time, differently from what had happened in 1871, the transition was
guaranteed by a complex of regulations prepared considering the practical prob-
lems of the new provinces and receiving the authoritative advice coming from
the Courts of Trieste, Trento, Fiume.
From that moment the history of the encounter between Italian and Ger-
man commercial law became the history of the Italian private law codification.
In 1942, Italy adopted the new unified Civil Code: one Code both for civil
and for commercial law.182 The Italian legislator, following the Swiss experi-

174  Legge 24 maggio 1903, n. 197.


175 Art. 6, regio decreto 4 novembre 1928, n. 2325.
176  Rocco , ‘Relazione’, in Szombathely (ed.), Le leggi di unificazione (above n. 167), p. 3.
177  Ibidem, p. 6.
178  A. Asquini , ‘Prefazione’, in Szombathely (ed.), Le leggi di unificazione (above

n. 167), p. VI.
179  Gesetz vom 6. März 1906, über Gesellschaften mit beschränkter Haftung, in RGBl. für

die im Reichsrate vertretenen Königreiche und Länder 1906, no. 58, pp. 605–633.


180  See artt. 3 and 4 of the regio decreto 4 novembre 1928, n. 2325.
181  Rocco , ‘Relazione’, in Szombathely (ed.), Le leggi di unificazione (above n. 167), p. 7.
182  For a history of the Italian Code of 1942, from the special point of view of the com-

mercial law, see Mazzarella , Un diritto per l’Europa industriale (above n. 2), pp. 244–266.
More generally R. Bonini , ‘Premessa storica’, in P. Rescigno (ed.), Trattato di Diritto Pri-
vato, vol. I, Premesse e disposizioni preliminari, 2nd ed., Torino, Utet, 1999, pp. 216–292; Ghi-
salberti , La codificazione del diritto in Italia (above n. 35), pp. 235–241; A. Iannarelli ,

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) 337

ence, also according with the corporate ideology of Fascism, chose the origi-
nal solution consisting of the unification of the law of obligations, i.e. the same
regulation for the civil and for the commercial obligations183. The form was to-
tally different from the German model, but the contents were very close. Not
only in the sense that all the innovations of the German tradition flew into the
new Code (“Firma”, unfair competition, limited liability society, commercial
re­gister, business books, commercial name, white promissory note, etc.), but
also because the Italian legislator turned towards the subjective system of the
HGB, built a commercial legal order around the new “Unternehmensrecht”184
and replaced the law of merchant and commercial acts with the law of business
and enterprise.185

‘L’imprenditore agricolo e le origini del libro V del Codice civile’, Quaderni fiorentini per la
storia del pensiero giuridico moderno 30 (2001), 511–583; Rondinone , Storia inedita della
codifica­zione civile (above n. 118); R. Teti , Codice civile e regime fascista: Sull’unificazione
del diritto privato, Milano, Giuffrè, 1990.
183  For some deep observations about the historical division between civil and commercial

law, see P. Caroni , Privatrecht im 19. Jahrhundert. Eine Spurensuche, Basel, Helbing Lich-
tenhahn, 2015, pp. 113–119, idem , ‘Quale continuità nella storia del diritto commerciale?’, in
Initium 1 (1996), pp. 49–61, idem , “Privatrecht”: Eine sozialhistorische Einführung, Basel und
Frankfurt am Main, Helbing & Lichtenhahn, 1988, pp. 157–195.
184 See Mazzarella , Quaderni fiorentini per la storia del pensiero giuridico moderno

39 (2010), 299, 376–386.


185 See P. Grossi , Quaderni fiorentini per la storia del pensiero giuridico moderno 28

(1999), 999–1038; Mazzarella , Un diritto per l’Europa industriale (above n. 2), pp. 207–
266; idem , ‘L’impresa’, in Il contributo italiano alla storia del pensiero, Diritto (above n. 28),
pp. 441–444.

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