The liability of public officers for damages caused to the PA

One of the main actions put in place by the Italian legislator to tackle the issue of defensive bureaucracy has been the limitation of public officers’responsibility for damages caused to the PA only to wilful misconducts (while, before the reform, also cases of gross negligence were considered in the liability provision). While it is too soon to assess the concrete effects of the application of the reform (enacted in 2020), it seems interesting to analyse how the former liability provisions have been applied by the Court and how this could have produced incentives to the defensive attitude of civil servants. The paper will focus on the Italian Court of Auditors case-law, also with a look also at the supranational INTOSAI, and on the available data on the relationship between investigations carried out and the actual comminated sanctions, to understand how the perceived risk of being liable corresponds to the reality of the danger public officers face.