Italy let off lettori fines

July 28, 2006

The European Court of Justice has let the Italian Government off swingeing fines for failing to end discrimination against the country's 1,500 foreign-language lecturers.

In a landmark judgment last week, the court ruled against Italy for failing to recognise the lettori 's acquired rights but it rejected the European Commission's request to impose fines on the grounds that the violation had since been rectified and that the commission had failed to produce relevant counterevidence.

The Commission, which was suing for daily fines of €309,750 (£212,000), will decide whether to take further action.

The court in effect rejected the opinion of the advocate-general, who had not only supported the Commission's request but had demanded higher fines.

Sir Neil MacCormick, the Edinburgh law professor and former MEP who has supported the complaint, described the court's failure to fine Italy as a scandal. "If the court needed further evidence from the Commission, why did it not direct the Commission to adduce such evidence before proceeding to final judgment?" he said.

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