Teaching the World Court Makes a Bad Case: On the Complex Relationship between Domestic and International Courts

Sentenza 238/2014 is not the first time a domestic court refuses to follow an international court. However, while previously defiance was more indirect, the Sentenza stands for a more recent type of jurisprudence, one in which domestic courts do not shy away from openly contradicting international courts. And it is no isolated example. This presentation compares the Sentenza to previous cases in which domestic courts were faced with the implementation of ICJ judgments and with other cases where they fulfil the role of “compliance partners” of international courts. Recognizing that there can be legitimate reasons not to follow an international judgment, it finds that attempts by domestic courts to reintroduce clear boundaries between legal orders lacks the openness and flexibility needed to effectively cope with today’s complex and plural legal reality.