February 2011


43.9.2 Law applicable to dealing with properties in Italy as assets of the bankruptcy estate

The EC Regulation on Insolvency Proceedings 2000 (‘the EC Regulation’) (see Chapter 41) generally provides that the law applicable to the bankruptcy is that of the Member State in which the bankruptcy order was made [note 1] (see paragraph 41.51). 

There are, however, exceptions to this general rule, which exceptions include special provisions in the case of property.  In particular, the opening of the proceedings does not affect third parties’ ‘rights in rem’ to property.  ‘Rights in rem’ are the rights of a creditor or third party in respect of assets belonging to the debtor which are situated in another Member State at the time of the opening of the proceedings [note 2].


43.9.3 Protection of the rights of chargeholders

As outlined at paragraph 43.9.2, the EC Regulation provides that ‘rights in rem’ are subject to an exception to the general rule regarding choice of law [note 3].

Broadly speaking, ‘rights in rem’ include security rights such as a mortgage, and the EC Regulation provides that it is the law of the country in which the property subject to security that would take precedence when considering the effect of the proceedings on those rights.

To comply with the EC Regulation, the official receiver, in his/her capacity as trustee of the bankrupt’s estate, will have to follow Italian law when dealing with the rights of chargeholders. 


43.9.4 Properties in Italy as assets of the bankruptcy estate

The Act provides that property, wherever situated in the world, forms part of the bankruptcy estate [note 4] [note 5], and the Act gives the trustee a power of sale over the property [note 6].

It is clear, therefore, that property in Italy belonging to the bankrupt would form part of the bankrupt’s estate and should be realised as appropriate, following the guidance in this Part.


43.9.5 Ensure that value of property justifies action taken to protect/realise

As with any other property, the official receiver, as trustee, should ensure that the value of the property to the estate justifies any action taken, or expense incurred, in relation to the protection or realisation of the property.

It is accepted that this may be something of a circular matter, in that it may be necessary to incur some expense to find out that the property has no value.


43.9.6 Ascertaining the value to the estate of a property in Italy

In simple terms, the calculation of the value of a Italian property to the estate involves the same process as would be required for a property in England and Wales (that is, the value of the property less any secured charges).  What may be more difficult is the obtaining of accurate information regarding the value of the property and the amount and level of any outstanding charges.


43.9.7 Obtaining information regarding the value of a property in Italy from the bankrupt

The most likely source of information regarding the value of the property will be from the information or documentation provided by the bankrupt, for example: 

  • Estimates of the value of the property made in the preliminary questionnaire or interview.
  • Documentation showing the purchase price.
  • Valuations provided during any re-mortgage process.


43.9.8 Other sources of information regarding the value of a property in Italy

As in the UK, there are websites that give the prices of properties that are for sale and examples are given here:

It is possible that a local estate agent may be prepared to offer an opinion.  An agent may be located by region on the following website:


43.9.9 Where accurate valuation of property is required

Where it is necessary to obtain an accurate value of the property the official receiver, as trustee, may consider appointing the Italian equivalent of a surveyor.  As this service is likely to attract a fee the official receiver should consider the necessity of the valuation against the likely benefit to the estate.  A surveyor may be located on the following website:


43.9.10 Establishing the position of charges against the property

It is likely that, as with a UK property, the official receiver, as trustee, will be able to establish what charges there are against the property from documentation or information provided by the bankrupt.

Assuming the identity of at least one of the secured chargeholders is known, they can be written to in the normal way (see paragraph 43.9.12) to obtain details of the amount outstanding under their charge and the identity of any other chargeholders.  Such an approach should be accompanied by a data protection act disclosure authority signed by the bankrupt (see paragraph 43.9.23) to avoid any refusal to provide information under jurisdictional differences.


43.9.11 Protecting the official receiver’s interest in the property

In the first instance, the official receiver should contact any chargeholder and request that they note the official receiver’s interest in the property (see paragraph 43.9.12). 

In addition to informing the chargeholders of the making of the bankruptcy order, it will be necessary to register the official receiver’s interest in the property at the land register office (see paragraph 43.9.13).


43.9.12 Contacting the chargeholder

Annex 1 is an MP2 letter (seeking information from a chargeholder) that has been amended  to be more relevant in respect of a Italian property.

Annex 2 is an MP3 letter (requesting the chargeholder to note the official receiver’s interest in the property) that has been amended to be more specific in respect of a Italian property.

Annexes 3 and 4 and are, respectively, English versions of the Italian language MP2 and MP3.


43.9.13 Protecting the property at the land registry

The official receiver should take steps to ensure that his/her interest in the property is recorded at the Italian national land registry (see paragraph 43.9.14).  This will stop any unauthorised dealings in the property.

He/she can achieve this by registering a notice with the land registry (see paragraph) that bankruptcy proceedings in England and Wales have commenced.  This is provided for in the EC Regulation [note 7].  The registrar may charge a fee for registration.

Annex 5 is a letter that official receivers may use to effect such registration.  The letter at Annex 5 should be accompanied by a legalised original of the bankruptcy order (see paragraph 43.0.49), which should also be translated into Italian (see paragraph 32.3.39).  Annex 6 is an English translation of Annex 5.    


43.9.14 Registration of property at the land registry

Italy has a two pronged approach to the registration of land and property.  The first is the ‘Catasto’ (which is itself split between urban and rural registers and is maintained at council, or ‘comuni’ level), which is normally referred to as the land registry, and it records details of ownership for the purpose of property taxation.

The other part of the system is the Registry of Deeds (‘Conservatoria dei Registri Immobiliari’) which records deeds of sale and mortgages.  This registry is relied upon for proof of ownership and also appears to be split on a geographical basis.


43.9.15 Searching the land register

There appears to be no English language on-line facility to enable land registry searches of property situated in Italy to be undertaken.  Due to the geographically diverse nature of the Italian land registration system it is likely that the official receiver will need to employ local representation (see paragraph 43.9.21) to undertake a search of the register.

In the event that the official receiver has access to an Italian speaker, the following website seems to offer an on-line service, in Italian: 


43.9.16 Realising the interest in the property – transfer to the RTLU

As with a property in England and Wales, the official receiver should seek to transfer dealings in relation to the property to the appropriate RTLU as soon as possible after his/her interest in the property has been protected (see paragraph 43.9.11).


43.9.17 Realising the interest in the property

As outlined in paragraph, the Act gives the official receiver, as trustee, the power to take possession of and sell a property that forms part of a bankrupt’s estate [note 8]. Under the provisions of the EC Regulation [note 9] [note 10], the official receiver must have respect for domestic (Italian) law when taking steps to realise the interest in the property.  In particular, he/she must follow rules under Italian law when taking steps to realise the interest in the property and the rules under Italian law with regard to the conveyance of the property (see paragraph 43.9.18).

It is not expected that the official receiver should enter into such a procedure without expert guidance from a lawyer (probably based in Italy) well versed in Italian law (see paragraph 43.9.21).


43.9.18 Procedure for conveyance

The first stage in the conveyancing process is for the purchaser and vendor to agree a pre-sales contract (‘compromesso’ or ‘contratto preliminare’).  This contact is binding in law and is usually backed by a deposit of 20% of the sale price.  If the purchaser backs out of the contract he/she will lose his/her deposit.  If the seller pulls out, he/she must return the deposit and, additionally, pay a sum equal to the deposit to the purchaser.   

Once the pre-sales contact has been agreed, and the deposit paid, the conveyance proceeds to the next stage, which is completion (‘atto notarile’).


43.9.19 Signing of the deed of sale

It is not expected that the official receiver, as trustee, would be required to travel to Italy to undertake the procedure required to complete a sale (see paragraph 43.9.18).  Instead, it is envisaged that the local legal representation (see paragraph 43.9.21) would deal with this part of the process.  For this to happen, the local representation would need to be given a power of attorney (‘procura generale’ or ‘procura generale’).  The local representation should lead the official receiver, as trustee, in this process.


43.9.20 Notary

The notary (‘notaio’) is a government appointed official whose role it is to oversee the property conveyancing process.  He/she does not act for either side and is interested to see that the sale proceeds in line with the process set down by the law of Italy.  He/she also has a role in checking the property for outstanding charges or other matters affecting title.


43.9.21 Instructing a local solicitor

It is not envisaged that official receivers should attempt to deal with the sale of a property in Italy directly, and it is recommended that local legal representation (see paragraph 43.9.22) is obtained to deal with the particular aspects of Italian conveyancing and insolvency procedures – not least the need to be personally present at the signing of sales contracts (see paragraph 43.9.18).


43.9.22 Locating a solicitor in Italy

Solicitors engaged by the official receiver in this country may be able to recommend a solicitor in Italy with which they have some connection or arrangement.

The website of the Law Society has a database of lawyers that may be searched by location and specialism:

Alternatively, the British Consulates in Italy may be able to recommend a solicitor (


43.9.23 Data protection

It may be the case that any Italian organisation from whom the official receiver seeks information, in his capacity as trustee, will cite data protection as a reason for not providing the requested information.

To avoid such difficulty, the official receiver should request that the bankrupt complete the data protection subject access form (attached at Annex 7) which should be sent to the relevant organisation.  


43.9.24 Disclaiming the property

The official receiver, as trustee, may issue a disclaimer of the property, but only if the property has some onerous obligation attached to it (such as an obligation to repair, maintain, make safe, insure for public liability or make secure) and, as a result, has no value to the estate.

Annex 8 is a document, in Italian, which explains the purpose and effect of a disclaimer and which should be included with the notice of disclaimer when served on the interested parties.  Annex 9 is an English translation of Annex 8.

See Chapter 34 for advice regarding the process of disclaiming.


43.9.25 Timeshares

Timeshares are dealt with in detail in the Case Help Manual part Timeshares.  In short, the basic principle for dealing with a timeshare is that it should be valued (using the services of one of the companies whose details are given in the Case Help Manual part, or a company providing similar services), taking into account any outstanding finance or service charges, and realised as appropriate.


43.9.26 Abandoning the property (amended July 2013)

Where there is no prospect of the property achieving equity sufficient to make realisation worthwhile, the official receiver, as trustee, may cease to take any active steps in dealing with the property – effectively, ‘abandoning’ the property to the mortgagees.  Where the property’s value is affected by some onerous obligation (to insure or make the property safe, for example) a disclaimer would be the more appropriate course of action (see paragraph 43.9.24).

Where this position is apparent prior to the process of registering his/her interest at the Land Registry (see paragraph 43.9.13), the official receiver may discontinue that process.  The official receiver should, though, ensure that his/her interest in noted by the mortgagees in the event of a surplus arising.