Italian Court of Cassation on pension consultants’ liability for damages

In a very recent judgment, the Court of Cassation confirmed an important principle in the area of liability for the activities of the Patronato (a network of consultancy offices in security and welfare matters).

With judgment no. 34475 of 11.12.2023, the Italian Supreme Court, overturning the decision of the two lower courts, ruled that the clients of the Patronato are entitled to compensation if they prove that they have not received a certain number of months of pension payments from INPS, the National Social Security Institute, as a result of an incorrect application by the Patronato to INPS.

The worker only has to prove that the Patronato had the mandate to submit the pension application, the error made by the Patronato in submitting the application and the damage suffered as a result of this error.

On the other hand, in order to avoid being ordered to pay damages, the Patronato must prove not only that the damage suffered by the beneficiary could have been avoided by appealing against the INPS’s refusal, but also that the appeal would have had a reasonable chance of success.

Thus, this judgment has ‘increased’ the burden of proof on the Patronato, also on the assumption that their activity is very specific and requires ‘increased’ diligence, so that they are obliged to carry out a thorough study of the clients’ pension situation and to identify the most favourable choice for them.

Therefore, in order to avoid any liability for damages, the Patronato can no longer simply claim that the damage could have been avoided by appealing against the INPS’s refusal, but must also prove that such an appeal would have had a good chance of success, thus undoing the damage suffered by the worker.