The reform of the abuse of power and defensive bureaucracy

The abuse of office has been traditionally conceived as the crime that allow the criminal judge to control the activity of the PA. Its provision in Italian law has been strongly criticized by legal scholars and academics for its wide and vague formulation, that left broad margins of interpretation to prosecutor and judges. For this reason, a huge variety of cases regarding several different aspects of the PA activity fell into the scope of application of the provision.
This situation has created, in recent years, the pathological effect of encouraging to the so called “defensive bureaucracy”, where civil servants are more concerned with minimizing the risk of criminal charges than with the actual pursuing of the public interest. In 2020, the Italian law on abuse of office has been modified, to deal with the above-mentioned problem. Will the reform work? This is what we are going to try to summarize in this panel, by an in-depth analysis of the criminal case-law.